Caterpillar workers to become latest in NI to take strike action

Caterpillar workers are set to be the latest to strike for better pay, with management of the US-owned company having now been notified of a series of strike dates.

By Niall Deeney
Monday, 4th April 2022, 8:36 pm
PACEMAKER BELFAST05/11/2020
Caterpillar, Larne site.
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST05/11/2020 Caterpillar, Larne site. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

There will be picket lines at the Caterpillar sites in both Springvale, Belfast and in Larne on Monday as the initial phase of its four-day strike gets underway.

The action will be put on pause over the Easter period and resume with another four-day strike on April 25.

The action, announced by the Unite trade union, comes amid widespread discontent in a range of sectors with workers pointing to soaring inflation and demanding pay increases to match.

Unite members in the Education Authority, Housing Executive and those employed by local councils recently held a seven-day strike that meant bins went unemptied, school transport was called off and other services were disrupted.

In the absence of a new offer from employers, Unite is now understood to be considering the possibility of a two-week strike by council staff in the lead-up to the election.

And public transport services could also soon be rocked by strike action, after members of both the GMB and Unite unions employed by Translink voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot that closed on Friday.

The GMB union has warned the entire bus network in Nortehrn Ireland will be hit with “a complete shutdown”.

The Unite strike committee is expected to meet today to discuss dates.

The News Letter understands it is possible the Translink strike dates could co-incide with the strike by council staff.

Workers in other sectors, meanwhile, have also pointed to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and demnaded pay increases.

There were a series of demonstrations by members of Unison, the largest union in the Northern Ireland health service, at hospitals all over the region on Friday.

Teaching unions have also launched a campaign on pay, demanding political action after a pay offer was rejected.

And a ballot is currently ongoing on a fresh offer by Spirit Aerosystems (formerly Bombardier), after Unite members at the aerospace manufacturer voted last month in favour of strike action on a previous pay offer.

NIPSA said on Friday that its members who work in the Stormont Assembly will vote on industrial action from April 8 to April 29.

On the strike dates announced by its members at Caterpillar in Northern Ireland, a spokesperson for Unite said: “Unite has notified management of a series of dates for a campaign of industrial action at Caterpillar in Northern Ireland.

The first strike will occur for the four day production period on Monday April 11 and be followed up the week after Easter with a further four day stoppage on April 25. The strike action will then recommence for the week after the May day holiday {Tuesday May 3) and the following week.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Caterpillar is sitting on billions and could well afford a pay deal which protects our members and their families at a time of surging inflation.

“Caterpillar must understand that these workers are resolute and have the full support of their union.”