Union escalates to round-the-clock pickets at Portadown site to defeat company greed

English workers get four star treatment while Polish workers left with hostels

Unite the union can reveal that Ulster Rugby sponsor Kingspan is flying in strikebreakers in a `disgraceful’ effort to undermine workers taking strike action for fair pay.

Workers from Kingspan sites in Williton in Somerset, England and Rokietnica in Poland have been flown over in recent weeks and are now being used in an attempt to continue production onsite.

In a further shocking development, Unite understands that while the English staff have been put up at the four-star Seagoe hotel in Portadown, the Polish workers are currently staying at a hostel in the Portadown area.

In 2022, materials business Kingspan recorded an 8.4 per cent jump in pre-tax profits of £657 million.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham blasted Kingspan’s actions, saying: “Kingspan’s disgraceful efforts to deny Portadown workers a far wage will not succeed.   This is another appalling case of greed by a business that can well afford to pay this workforce fairly.  Unite is determined to do everything in our power support our members until they do exactly that.”

The union’s members are holding solidarity signage in Polish seeking to appeal to the strikebreakers – some of whom are understood not to have been told about the ongoing industrial dispute.

Workers on the picket line, many of whom are from eastern Europe, have signs in Polish appealing to the Polish workers who have been flown in to show solidarity.  They have also made a short video message clarifying the situation and appealing for them not to cross the workforce picket lines.

Unite’s regional officer for the workforce is Neil Moore who spoke about the efforts by striking workers to reach out to strike breakers on the picket line: “Many of the striking workforce at Kingspan, Portadown come from Eastern Europe, including Poland. There are signs written in Polish as well as a Polish language video appeal to the strikebreakers to explain the dispute and to ask them to respect the Portadown workers’ picket lines.

“In a further display of despicable behaviour by the Kingspan bosses, English workers are being put up in four-star hotel while Polish workers are put up in a hostel. That shows their disrespect for their workers – whether they are from the UK or Poland.”

Bosses have been bringing delivery and distribution lorries after dark to avoid the strike action. In response, the striking workers have agreed to escalate the picket line to stand 24 hours a day.