Unite blasts firm for ‘burning through’ cash on rooms that cost up to £850 a night rather than pay workers fairly
Manufacturing company Caterpillar has been paying for the strike-breakers it brought to Northern Ireland to stay in five star luxury, Unite the union says today (Wednesday).
The strike breakers have 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.
Rooms at the Culloden Resort Hotel – which offers a `luxurious break…..at the most prestigious five-star hotel in Northern Ireland’ – can cost up to £850 a night, while a suite is £2500 a night.
Unite says that, along with the high-cost hotel accommodation costs, Caterpillar is paying the travel costs and hourly premiums to those they have brought in to cross picket lines.
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.”
Caterpillar workers at both the Larne and Springvale, Belfast sites are on their third month of strikes in pursuit of a fair pay increase having overwhelmingly rejected a management two-year pay offer which amounted to a three percent real terms pay cut and compulsory overtime.
Last week Unite organised 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.”