Workers strike again in factory pay row

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Staff at a Sheffield factory that manufactures parts for the automotive industry are striking over a pay dispute.

All 140 shop floor workers at the Bifrangi factory in Attercliffe were on strike for the third time yesterday as negotiations between their trade union, Unite, and the crankshaft factory employers failed to reach a resolution.

Unite submitted a pay claim on behalf of workers last November and had hoped for a settlement in January.

Doug Patterson, regional officer for Unite in Sheffield, said: “We tried on numerous occasions to get a proper, meaningful discussion about the money that was due.

“We believe that the claim we’ve put in is reasonable and affordable, but we are open to meaningful negotiations.”

The claim put forward by the union was for an increase in pay of 2.5 per cent from January this year and, from January 2012, pay in line with the Retail Price Index of inflation, plus one per cent.

Bifrangi’s final offer to its workers was for a 1pc rise, with another 0.5pc and £1,000 payout per worker if performance targets were met.

Unite suggested a compromise: they would accept Bifrangi’s offer if the targets, which they believed to be unrealistic, were removed. But employers refused it.

Doug said: “If the offer was paid in full, it would cost them less to pay out on our claim than what they were offering, but we don’t think they intend to pay that.”

Italy-based Bifrangi’s offer has been withdrawn and there is no pay offer on the table.

The strikers have been on the picket line for the past two Fridays in 24-hour actions.

The latest 24-hour strike started at 9pm on Thursday, and another is planned from 6am on Monday.

Paul Chilton, plant manager at Bifrangi in Sheffield, said: “Taking into account the current financial climate and uncertainty surrounding the future, Bifrangi offered a very good deal, especially as the plant has lost money in previous years.

“The targets were to be measured on average output and were very realistic, based on figures that have been beaten or equalled throughout this year, and well within the stated plant capacity.

“We withdrew our offer of settlement because the board will not negotiate whilst strikes and industrial actions are taking place.”