GKN workers reject deal

By Richard Wright

Friday, February 14, 2014

 

SHOPFLOOR workers on the Isle of Wight are understood to have voted down a union recommendation and overwhelmingly rejected an improved offer from GKN.

They were balloted by their union, Unite, on an improved terms and conditions package hammered-out with management at eleventh hour talks which averted the threat of industrial action.

The union recommended workers accept the new package, which is understood to have added two hours to the working week, but largely preserved overtime and shift premiums.

A very clear majority of staff are understood to have rejected the offer, although exact figures were not available.

Throughout negotiations GKN said it needed to make savings to secure new multi-million pound contracts were carried out at East Cowes in a climate of increasing worldwide competition.

At one stage GKN told its workers: "We believe not securing these programmes for Cowes would be a disastrous decision for the long-term security of all employees. Failure to get this work here would inevitably lead to reshaping the Cowes operation, which would not be in the long-term interests of the business, employees or the local community."

Hundreds of redundancies were predicted if GKN sent work elsewhere.

But workers complained of "bullying" tactics by the company.

One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: "It is the company which has soured previously good industrial relations and the vote was a reflection of how they have gone about things."

But another said: "I fear GKN will now run the workforce down over time and close — all for the sake of a couple extra hours and a little reduction on the shift rate."

The industrial row has rumbled on since July when GKN first tried to impose new terms and conditions.

It is understood that a joint statement will be issued by Unite and GKN outlining how both will react to the result.

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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