Lurgan firm to ballot on taking strike action

Radius Systems in Lurgan
Radius Systems in Lurgan

Workers at a large Co Armagh firm which manufactures plastic pipes are to be ballotted on taking industrial action due to pay issues.

Radius Plastics Ltd employs around 120 people in Lurgan and according to the union UNITE staff are unhappy with their pay.

Sean Smyth from Unite said they had been in negotiations with the firm for several months .

Mr Smyth said that workers had agreed to a five percent pay rise however they want it back-dated to April 1.

He said the firm appears unwilling to agree to this and instead offered the rise from September 1 this year.

He added that the workers are on ‘Continental’ shifts, working 12 hour days for four days or 12 hour nights for three nights.

Mr Smyth explained that the firm had also wanted workers to agree to more overtime.

Workers are very unhappy with the firm’s stance and the union is to ballot them today to see if they want to take industrial action.

The ballot takes a number of weeks but if workers vote for industrial action they could be out on strike at the end of September or beginning of October.

Sean Smyth called on management to change course in order to avoid the prospect of damaging industrial action.

“In a recent consultative ballot, our members at Radius Plastics voted with a majority of more than ninety percent to reject terms offered by management in pay talks. While workers were satisfied to accept a five percent increase for a two year deal, that acceptance was contingent on the offer being backdated to the beginning of April. Unfortunately, bosses have rejected this request and stuck rigidly to their own plans to delay the pay increase until the beginning of September.

“The net result is that our members are losing the value of a five percent pay increase for a five-month period. Under the RPI measure, which best approximates the true cost of living increase experienced by working-class people, inflation last year reached four percent. The five-month delay proposed by management will mean that the benefit to our members of a five percent increase over two years will be all but eaten up over that period.

“In their response to the workforce’s demand for a backdated settlement, bosses approach has been characterised by a high-handed obstinacy. They have left us with no alternative but to proceed to ballot our members formally for industrial action. That ballot will open today and remain open for a period of two weeks. Given legal requirements, the likelihood is that any industrial action will commence in October.

“Unite has taken a reasonable approach to the pay talks in Radius Plastics and we remain open to engagement with the company which we hope will avert the threat of an unnecessary and damaging strike action; however, management at the company should be under no illusions as to our determination to secure a fair pay deal for our members. There should be no doubt that if our members take strike action it will have a debilitating impact on the company’s productive capacity.

“This union stands behind our members one hundred percent – the ball is now squarely in the management court. They need to adopt a more reasoned approach”, Mr Smith said.

The firm is part of Radius Systems which has a headquarters in Derbyshire.

They develop and manufacture plastic pipeline solutions for the gas industry and these solutions are now commonly used in the water, wastewater, energy & power, district heating and telecoms sectors.

The firm was asked for a comment but has not yet responded.