Balcas strike ends as workers accept pay deal

The settlement is proof that an organised workforce can improve its conditions the union Unite has claimed
The settlement is proof that an organised workforce can improve its conditions the union Unite has claimed
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Strike action at Balcas in Fermanagh has ended as staff at the Enniskillen timber plant voted overwhelmingly to accept a “vastly improved” pay offer.

The two year pay deal is worth more than £1,000 per worker in first year with guaranteed above-inflation pay increase in year two and has bene hailed by the union Unite as a significant event in the fight for fair pay.

Congratulating the workforce and their shop stewards on a powerful two-day strike action, Gareth Scott, Unite regional officer said: “Balcas employees, whether working in the wood mills or handling timber work exceptionally hard in what can be a difficult and potentially dangerous job.

“The forty-eight hour strike action taken by the workers was unprecedented in Balcas and the first private-sector strike in Fermanagh in very much more than a decade.

“ It came on the back of a significant growth in Unite membership at the site and was a powerful demonstration of workers’ power.”

Mr Scott said the action had caught the imagination of people across the county and that its success would give confidence to other workers.

“Those on the pickets received a huge outpouring of support from the local community and other workers, in particular those from other Unite-organised workplaces.

“In a display of inspiring solidarity, the majority of independent contractors who haul timber to the site refused to deliver during the strike as they refused to cross the picket lines.

“Unite is satisfied that this deal offers a solid platform for the workers and management to move forward positively and with confidence.

“Balcas is a company which can be confident of its future if pay is sufficient to retain the skills and commitment upon which that success will be built.