Svoboda | Graniru | BBC Russia | Golosameriki | Facebook

Caterpillar makes 'take it or leave it' offer to NI staff

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

  • Published
Employees and Unite union members picket at the Caterpillar site in west Belfast in April 2022Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Members of the Unite union, employed by Caterpillar in Larne and Belfast, have been on strike since April

Caterpillar, the manufacturing company, is making a pay offer directly to its Northern Ireland workforce after failing to reach agreement with a trade union.

Members of the Unite union, employed by the firm in Larne and Belfast, have been on strike since April.

Caterpillar said it is going directly to the workforce because a 14-month process has not produced a resolution.

The firm has emphasised that it was not attempting to de-recognise the union.

In a letter to staff it said: "We are not walking away from our relationship with the union and remain committed to collective bargaining procedures for future terms and conditions."

Caterpillar said it is offering a 9% base salary increase effective from 1 April 2022 and a one-time lump sum equal to 2.6% of wages earned from 1 April 2021 to 1 April 2022.

The package also includes an annual opportunity to cash in up to two days of leave.

'Anti-trade union'

George Brash, Unite regional officer, described the move as "a direct attack on the trade union".

"It's just a clear attempt to circumvent the collective bargaining process and its an anti-trade union tactic," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme.

"We'll certainly be consulting our members on what the company has proposed as well as looking at all legal avenues to challenge them on it."

A major union objection to the package is that it is tied to a change in overtime arrangements which would involve compulsory overtime to deal with periods of high customer demand.

The company says this "customer-driven overtime" would come with 30-days notice and no more than 120 hours of overtime in a rolling 12-month period.

'Reached an impasse'

The union has said the deal also still amounts to a real terms pay cut compared to RPI inflation.

A Caterpillar spokesperson said: "After 14 months of direct meetings with the union, four different mediation sessions through the Labour Relations Agency, and considerable movement from our first offer, we made it clear to Unite and our workforce that the offer on the table was final.

"The negotiations process is now exhausted and we have reached an impasse - all while Unite continues to extend the period of strike action.

"As a result, we've started the process of making direct offers to our workforce."

It is understood each individual worker will be asked to accept the new pay and conditions on a "take it or leave it" basis in the coming weeks.

Related Topics