The Transport and General Workers Union confirmed this afternoon that last minute talks have failed to resolve the vehicle handlers’ pay claim and that a 24-hour strike from 7.00am tomorrow will go ahead.
The vehicle handlers are responsible for moving vehicles off train and truck transporters to compounds for onward journeys in the UK and the export markets. There are 35 workers concerned at sites in Bathgate in Scotland, Castle Bromwich and Bordsely Green in Birmingham and Cowley in Oxford.
The handlers drive and prepare vehicles from the ‘big name’ manufacturers and are responsible for handling cars worth tens of thousands of pounds. Bob Shaw, the T&G regional industrial organiser who has been leading for the union in the pay talks, said the value of the vehicles was in stark contrast to the relatively low pay of the handlers.
They earn £278 for a 39 hour week and have made it clear they believe a weekly rate of £300 is not unreasonable. STVA had offered a two-year deal of 3% in each year but this was rejected by the union as it failed to make sufficient progress towards the £22 a week claim.
As the car industry gears up to the crucial September registrations the strike by STVA handlers could have a major effect. Shaw predicted a big impact on Jaguar in particular although he said the major brands, including Ford, Peugeot, Citroen and Honda, would all be affected.
In addition to the one-day action tomorrow Shaw said a weekly one-day strike on each Monday for the next ten weeks would seriously impact on the industry.
“Car workers who are currently on holiday for the annual shut down could find themselves with extra time off if this dispute isn’t settled,” he warned.