Flooring factory employees in Manchester secure large pay rise

Following a series of strikes over pay that started in early September, workers at Polyflor Ltd., a vinyl flooring manufacturer, have accepted a pay rise offer of 9 percent.

class pay gap

On top of the pay 9 percent rise, employees will receive a lump sum of £1,320. The lump sum will be made in two ‘cost of living’ payments of £660, one of which will be paid before Christmas and the other in January 2023.

The 120-plus workers are members of the GMB union. They had previously rejected a 2 percent pay rise offer.

It is reported that James Holstead, the parent company of PolyFlor, also located in Manchester, has seen profits rise to more than £52 million — up 9.6 per cent to £291.9m for the year ending June 30.

Polyflor had suspended shifts for workers at the factory in September after members of the union voted in favour of the industrial action. At the time, Stephen Boden, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “These dedicated workers are suffering from the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, rising interest rates and a crumbling economy. 

“They need help from the company, and instead their getting vindictive attacks. 

“Polyflor has money – it dished out £24 million to shareholders.  

“The workers who prop up the company need a proper pay rise too.” 

In a message to the trade union movement in Manchester, John Waddington, GMB Polyfor branch secretary, said:

“Thanks very much for your physical attendance at our demonstrations, your messages of encouragement sent either directly or posted on social media and also the donations that have been made which have helped us support members.”

Talking to the Bury Times, Waddington said that if the members had rejected the offer, the could have faced a reduction to the £70 daily strike payment paid to workers by GMB.

“I think we all realised that it was time to strike a compromise, both the union and the company came to that conclusion.

“[the offer] will certainly come in useful just at this point in time, before Christmas. That was large in a lot of people’s minds, that Christmas was upon us.

Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, who defected to the Labour Party from the Tories in January in the throes of the Partygate scandal, shared his support of the strikes and the outcome.

 “Proud to learn tonight that Polyflor workers who have been on strike for the last 8 weeks have just agreed a nine per cent pay rise and will be returning to work tomorrow.

“Well done to @GMB_union I’m proud to have supported from the start. There’s power in a union,” said Wakeford.

Following a deal being reached, Gordon Oliver, finance director at Polyflor said:

“The portion of the workforce that were on strike have an average 20 years’ service and had concerns about inflation and energy costs.

“The company, Polyflor, has offered stable employment for over a generation and had concerns over ongoing issues of abseentism.

“The strike is over and it’s back to work.

“Polyflor is a subsidiary of a larger publicly listed company and a high proportion of the workforce in the UK are shareholders in the PLC and have shared in success in the form of dividends.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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