Coffin factory strike enters fourth month as Co-op Funeralcare wastes £1 million instead of resolving dispute

Unite members have resumed strike action at the Co-op Funeralcare coffin manufacturing factory based in Glasgow in a bitter dispute over pay which has now entered its fourth month. 

Strike action by Unite members began on Wednesday 4 January and will run continuously through to Monday 16 January, which will be the fourth consecutive week of strike action. 

Unite recently uncovered that the Cooperative Funeralcare spent over £1,000,000 last year on purchasing coffins from third party suppliers at a time when the dispute with their own workforce could have been successfully resolved for a fraction of this cost. 

Additionally, Co-op Funeralcare made an underlying profit of £12 million in 2021.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “It’s simply disgraceful that the Co-op, an employer that can easily afford to raise pay, would rather waste £1 million on alternative products and see this dispute stretch into its fourth month than pay its workforce fairly.

“Unite’s members are resolute and they continue to show their determination in this fight. The Co-op’s management is clearly trying to break its own loyal workforce but Unite will back our members all the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Around 50 craft workers based at the Co-op’s only coffin manufacturing facility in the UK at Bogmoor Place have repeatedly rejected a real-terms pay cut. 

The offer on the table from the Co-op stands at around a third of the current broader rate of living cost, which is 14 per cent.

Willie Thomson, Unite industrial officer, added: “The Co-op’s claims of showing a better way of doing business and being a fairer employer are in the rubbish bin. Management are currently forking-out more cash to third party coffin suppliers rather than allocating a fraction of that money towards solving this bitter dispute. That’s the current state of Co-op values.

“We repeat our call that it’s time for CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, to become directly involved if they have any interest in salvaging their reputation. The strike action will also continue beyond this week because our members are unbroken and they are determined to fight until they get what they deserve.”

The workers took part in a further stoppage over the festive period from 28 to 30 December.