Jaguar Land Rover strike threat by UK’s largest union

Jaguar Land Rover has been threatened with industrial action by Unite, Britain’s largest union, if it does not get back to the negotiating table. According to Unite, 96% of members rejected the company’s pay offer.

The pay offer was rejected by 12,881 workers, while 454 voted in favor and 17 spoiled their ballot papers.

Union members said the pay offer and pension changes fall short of expectations and fail to recognize the employees’ contribution to the £2.5 billion profit posted by the company last year, plus the £1 billion registered in the first quarter of this year.

Unite says there is growing anger at the way Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has diluted and threatened to change the final salary scheme, including pension cuts of £240 million, despite agreements two years ago to pension changes to the final salary.

JLR’s 14,000-strong workforce is upset that new starters would to have to wait six years before reaching 100% pay, as well as the introduction of a new bonus payment.

Roger Maddison, Unite

Jaguar Land Rover workers made huge sacrifices to get the company off the ground, says Mr. Maddison.

The union members are concerned that the bonuses will eventually replace wage rises. The bonus payments are not consolidated or pensionable.

Unite national officer, Roger Maddison, said:

“The workforce made huge sacrifices and endured pay freezes during difficult times to ensure that Jaguar Land Rover is the success it is today.”

“Their hard work, skills and commitment have helped ensure that JLR has become a highly profitable world leader with a bulging order book. With the company making a staggering £10 million profit a day, it is no surprise that the workforce is angered by pension cuts and a pay offer that falls short in recognizing their role in that success.”

“JLR needs to get back around the negotiating table and hammer out a deal that meets the workforce’s expectations and shares the rewards of the company’s success fairly. Otherwise we will be looking to ballot our members for industrial action across the company’s five sites”

JLR’s CEO, Ralf Speth, said before Thursday’s ballot that the management’s offer was “significantly beyond” settlements agreed on in other parts of the economy.

“Our company offer means JLR employees will receive 50% more than the current rate of inflation and for a production operator the deal is worth 7.7% in the first year alone – a substantial deal which keeps you well ahead of the average for UK car workers,” Mr. Speth said.

When the Indian conglomerate Tata Group acquired JLR in 2008, the union had agreed to pay cuts and redundancies.

Mumbai-based Tata Motors posted a -7.1% fall in consolidated net profit in the second quarter, due to higher tax provisions and a sluggish domestic market.