Unite the union urges management to improve pay and avoid prospect of strike action

Trade union, Unite confirmed its members at Thales in Northern Ireland have voted in an industrial ballot with a 77.5 percent majority for strike action in pursuit of improved pay. Following on from the ballot, the union called on management to meet in full its members’ pay claim for the year. 

The claim, submitted in January, sought an ‘inflation-plus-one-percent’ increase of 8.1 percent based on the retail price index at that point in time. To date, management have offered only a five percent pay increase plus a non-consolidated one-off payment of £500. 

Thales is a hugely successful business: in March bosses confirmed a dramatic 32 percent leap in profits to £1.4 billion for the year 2021 but they did not pass this onto workers – the source of all that profit – but increased dividends by 45 percent. Thales is forecasting even higher profits with sales for 2022 set to rise to £15.5 billion and profit margin forecast to increase to 11.1%; suggesting profits for the year will increase to £1.6 billion or a further 15 percent higher. 

General secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, challenged Thales to respond to the pay expectations of its Belfast workforce. 

The success of Thales in Northern Ireland has been trumpeted widely by the Tory government – indeed it was recently visited by a government minister. But those who contribute to that success are expected to accept a low ball five percent pay increase in the midst of a cost of living crisis. 

Workers at Thales deserve better. This is a hugely successful business which can afford to pay out a proper pay increase meeting our members’ pay claim in full. Workers at Thales can count on the full support of Unite in securing that outcome.” 

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald is lead official for the workforce at Thales. She highlighted the ability of the company to meet the pay claim and called on management to listen to their own workers. 

Thales turns considerably more than a billion in profits every year and those profits are set to increase even further. Last year, the company raised dividends by 45 percent but workers are being offered a mere 5 percent instead of the 8.1 percent pay claim they submitted at the beginning of this year. 

“Management would be best advised to stop taking its workforce for granted. Our members have provided this union with a powerful mandate for strike action; in the absence of any movement from the employer workers will be left with no alternative but to take their dispute to the picket line.”