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Tyne and Wear British Engines workers strike over pay

Around 170 workers employed in Newcastle and South Shields by historic North East engineering firm British Engines will strike over pay, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Monday).


The strikes will impact three British Engines businesses: BEL Engineering in Newcastle and Rotary Power and Michell Bearings in South Shields.


The workers are angry at being offered a three per cent pay rise, with each workplace voting overwhelmingly for strike action in three separate ballots.


The offer is a real terms pay cut given that the real rate of inflation, RPI, is still above four per cent. Making matters worse, due to five years of below inflation pay deals, the spending power of the workers’ wages has fallen by 18 per cent since 2019.


Meanwhile, according to British Engines’ latest financial report, the company made a profit after tax of £5.6 million in 2022. The year before, British Engines’ after tax profits were £5.4 million.


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “British Engines’ workers are sick and tired of seeing their pay go down year after year while the company makes millions in profits. British Engines can afford to put forward a fair deal and our members are absolutely right to strike for one. They have Unite’s total support in taking industrial action for a reasonable pay rise.”


The strikes will impact supply chains for the aerospace, civil nuclear, oil and gas, defence and marine industries, including for clients such as BAE Systems, David Brown’s and Rolls Royce. BEL Engineering provides specialist engineering design and manufacturing services, Rotary Power produces hydraulic motors and pumps and Michell Bearings makes hydrodynamic bearings. 


Strike action will take place from Friday 24 May to Thursday 30 May. Industrial action will intensify if the dispute is not resolved.


Unite regional officer Anna Lavery said: “British Engines’ clients will not be pleased that their supply chains are being disrupted because of the company’s greed. There is still time to avoid strike action but that will require British Engines’ leadership to put forward three acceptable offers.”


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