PRODUCTION of the MINI at Oxford could be severely disrupted after drivers delivering components voted to go on strike for six days in a pay dispute, Unite the Union warned today (Friday 22 October).
The large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers employed by Imperial Logistics International (UK) voted by 94 per cent to strike for 24 hours on 9 November and 17 November; and then for 48 hours on 23/24 November and 30 November/1 December. There will also be a continuous overtime ban.
The crux of the dispute is that, while the bosses have offered a pay increase to retain their depleted workforce, it is still just under £2 less than the hourly rate being paid to those employed on an agency basis. Strike action could hit MINI production at the Cowley plant running at a 1,000 vehicles a day.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘There is a serious shortage of lorry drivers across the UK so Imperial Logistics needs to wake up, smell the coffee and pay our members the rate they deserve.
‘Our drivers do the vital job of delivering the components to the plant. With the ‘just-in-time’ supply chain any strike action and overtime ban will slow the production line down or stop it completely. That can be avoided – Imperial Logistics just needs to do the decent thing and pay the drivers fairly.’
A team of more than 70 drivers is needed to keep the Oxford plant supplied smoothly, but the firm only has 25, which means a lot of the work is sub-contracted out, making the site heavily reliant on agency drivers.
Unite regional officer Scott Kemp said: ‘The management has been dragging its feet since the summer and needs to come to the negotiating table quickly for constructive talks. Like many other logistics firms, it has been hugely impacted by the national shortage of LGV drivers.
‘Our members are angry that agency drivers are paid considerably more than the permanent staff – the management needs to rectify this situation fast, otherwise MINI production could be hit.’
Unite the union has negotiated a recognition agreement for its members working at the Cambridge headquarters of TWI, a global leader in technology engineering.
The agreement will allow the union’s growing membership amongst the 400 employees at the Granta Park site to have collective trade union bargaining rights when it comes to pay and employment conditions. It is believed to be the first TWI site in the UK to have such an agreement.