Wrexham-based company refusing to negotiate with trade union – months after praising them for help during pandemic
A Wrexham-based company is refusing to negotiate with trade union representatives over its workers’ pay just months after praising the same unions for helping it survive the pandemic.
Unite confirmed today that around 200 staff of Prysmian Cables are striking in an effort to win a 2% pay increase, which would be their first raise since 2019.
The union said there has been a “complete failure by the company to engage” in talks and are planning to escalate the dispute to a permanent walkout later this month.
“Prysmian have made a strategic decision not to negotiate with Unite during this dispute,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, but warned the company: “Make no mistake, we will back our members with every resource we have, to end this pay freeze and achieve a decent pay increase.”
The stand-off comes despite the company’s director saying in his latest annual report that: “During the Covid pandemic it has to be noted that the represented trade unions worked collaboratively with the company to support the required actions.”
It also states: “The company has a policy of consulting employees or their representatives on a regular basis so that the views of employees can be considered in making decisions that are likely to affect their interests.”
Nation.Cymru asked Prysmian Cables for comment but has not as yet received one.
Chris Peckham, a Prysmian Cables employee of 36, said staff want “a bit more recognition” following their efforts during the pandemic, which included foregoing a pay rise in 2020.
“We’ve come to work in fear of our lives sometimes because of outbreaks in the local area”, he said in a video posted by the union from a picket line at the factory’s gates. “The effort that people have made, we deserve something for it and we’re not asking for the world.”
Steve Humphries, who has worked at the company for 32 years, added: “We made the cables for the Nightingale Hospital. We thought we were doing out bit and we had no recognition for it all. The staff are really dejected about it. We’re not being greedy here, we just want to maintain our standard of living…for a company that’s making vast profits.”
Prysmian Cables, which is headquartered in Eastleigh, reported an after-tax loss last year due to Covid but the latest results of its parent company, the Prysmian Group, show the business has “recovered sharply” with sales growth up by 11% compared to 2020.
It’s not the first time the company have been in conflict with Unite over pay in recent years.
The union named Prysmian Cables among the “Scrooge employers of the year” in 2018 for “offering staff a below inflation 2% pay rise and then tried to buy workers off with a bacon bap.”
In 2016, staff took part in an overtime ban in protest at company plans to fire and rehire staff on conditions that would see them lose around £2,000 a year each.
The latest dispute has also been inflamed by the company’s decision to use recruitment agencies to find staff to fill in for those on strike, which was described as “shocking behaviour” by Unite.
One local union member wrote on Twitter: “Prysmian has shown utter contempt towards its Wrexham workforce and has resorted to bringing in outside contractors instead of entering talks with Union Reps and Officials. #UtterDisgrace”