Workers at Balcas Timber Ltd (Glennon Brothers) to ballot for strike action in pay dispute

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Unite the union has notified management at Balcas Timber Ltd, a wood-mill and Combined Heat Power plant employing approximately 280 at Killadeas, Co Fermanagh, of its intent to conduct a strike ballot of the workforce.

The strike ballot will open on Tuesday 16 April and remain open for three weeks closing on Tuesday 7 May.

The workforce are paid as little £10.68 an hour, which is only now being increased to £11.44 an hour to comply with national minimum wage legislation.

Balcas is a highly successful company and is operating close to full capacity to meet the surge in demand for timber products. The company’s latest accounts (2022) reported turnover had increased by 7.6 per cent while operating costs fell. As a result, profits leapt to £19.4 million an increase of 190 per cent.

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The company is wholly-owned by the Longford headquartered Glennon Brothers Holdings Ltd, the second biggest timber manufacturer in the UK.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Balcas and Glennon brothers are highly successful and profitable companies operating. They can easily afford to provide a fair pay increase. Their failure to do so is a cynical attempt to further boost profits at the expense of workers’ well-being.

“Unite always focusses on the jobs, pay and conditions of its workers and the Balcas workforce can be certain of the total support of Unite.”

The workers at the wood mill submitted a pay claim seeking a cost of living pay increase to maintain pay differentials with the legal minimum, the introduction of a sick pay scheme and a one day increase in holiday entitlement.

Unite regional officer for the workforce Gareth Scott said: “Working in a saw mill is a tough and challenging job and the pay these workers receive just doesn’t reflect that reality.

“Management needs to recognise the mounting severity of this industrial dispute – it can only be resolved if management returns to the table with a pay offer that meets our members’ expectations.”