Accounts confirm company profits of more than four million a year, 70 percent paid out to coupon-clippers as dividends, while workers offered a bare 0.6 percent pay increase
Unite Regional Officer, Sean McKeever, challenged the insulting pay offer of a bare 0.6 percent made to his unions’ members working at Belfast-based John Thompsons & Sons, Northern Ireland’s largest animal feed producer.
“Unite members at Thompson’s feeds in Belfast have turned up to work day-after-day throughout the pandemic to ensure the security of supply of animal feeds. Even before this pandemic, this work was inherently dangerous and yet because pay rates are so low, these frontline workers depend on overtime to make up a living income for themselves and their families.
“John Thompson & Sons Ltd is a hugely successful company; the leading animal feed producer in Northern Ireland. The latest published accounts show expanded turnover, generating year-on-year profits of more than £4 million. Rather than those profits being shared with the workforce or even reinvested, they are going to shareholders’ pockets. In 2018 £3.7 million was paid in dividends to coupon-clippers, in 2019 it was £2.9 million and at the cost of lowering the company’s overall balance sheet! The company’s directors too are well rewarded; the highest paid received £151,000 in 2019.
“Meanwhile frontline employees, who have had no choice but to work throughout the pandemic, are offered an insulting 0.6 percent pay increase. That amounts to as little as an extra seven pence an hour to some workers.
“For such successful business practice, Thompson’s Chief Executive Declan Billington is feted as a great entrepreneur. The former CBI NI Chair was last year awarded an honorary professorship by Queens University.
“The well-paid Directors and shareholders aren’t on the frontlines of production risking their lives – workers are. Why are workers offered a measly 0.6 percent pay increase while shareholders receive millions? Workers must organise themselves collectively to fight back. Unite is encouraging any Thompson’s employees not already a member of our union to join us. Standing together is the only way to ensure that instead of profits going to bumper dividends to shareholders they increase the pay of the workers who generate them”, Mr McKeever said.