Union says Caterpillar is paying for strike breakers to stay in five star hotels

A union has condemned Caterpillar saying that it is paying for strike breakers to stay at five star hotels rather than pay their workers fairly.

Workers at the Larne and Springvale factories are in their third month of industrial action as they call for improved wages in the face of rising inflation and a cost of living crisis.

They rejected a management two-year pay offer which they say amounted to a three percent real terms pay cut and compulsory overtime.

Read more: Striking Caterpillar workers say they are being ‘stonewalled’ in negotiations

Unite the Union says that Caterpillar has been using strike breakers and paying for them to stay a luxury five star hotels in Northern Irelandalong with paying for their travel costs.

It says that the strike breakers had been staying at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast but after their presence attracted protests, they were moved to the five-start Culloden Resort Hotel and Spa.

A room at the Culloden can cost £ 850 a night.

General secretary Sharon Graham blasted the company saying: “Rather than pay fairly, Caterpillar is burning through huge sums of money in an attempt to defeat its own workforce.

“It beggars belief – money that should be spent solving this dispute is instead being used to put up dozens of strike-breakers for weeks in luxury resort hotels.

“Caterpillar’s willingness to throw money at deepening this dispute and lowering their workers ‘living standards is truly shameful but they will not shake our members’ resolve.

“Unite’s members will continue their strike action for pay that is fair with the full backing of our union.”

Last week Unite organized protests at the London offices of Vanguard, Blackrock and State Street, the primary investors in Caterpillar.

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer, challenged the company’s institutional investors on how such strike-busting tactics tallied with their claims about ethics-led investment: “Caterpillar’s institutional investors need to be asking themselves if they should be condoning this company’s conduct.

“Our members remain determined to protect themselves and win a decent pay increase – one that does not involve compulsory overtime or a real-terms pay cut. Instead of throwing money at an effort to strike-break, Caterpillar needs to get back to negotiations and make an offer which gives workers a real terms wage increase during a crippling cost of living crisis. ”

A Caterpillar spokesperson said: “Caterpillar negotiated in good faith with Unite to reach a fair and balanced final agreement which would include a 9% wage increase effective April 1, 2022. The company believes industrial action should be avoided but is committed to maintaining operations at its facilities throughout the duration of the action.

“Unfortunately, some Unite picketers have chosen to engage Caterpillar employees outside of work. The actions of this group have been increasingly aggressive and have forced us to make adjustments to protect the safety and wellbeing of our employees. We respect Unite’s right to picket peacefully; however we will not accept behavior that puts the safety of our employees at risk. “

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