Staff at Lincat are on strike over pay conditions once more – but this time for a month. Employees from the commercial kitchen appliance manufacturer, located on Whisby Road in Lincoln, previously walked out for a week at the start of September, demanding an inflation-matching rise of 9.7 per cent.
However, after a subsequent offer, over 100 are now picketing from Monday, September 25 until Monday, October 23. The Unite trade union said that low-paid workers rejected a split pay deal of 8 per cent, comprising 5.5 per cent from January to June this year, which would be backdated, and an additional 2.5 per cent for the remainder of the year.
They further mentioned that higher-paid workers had been offered tiered pay rises, none of which reached 8 per cent. The deals presented to all workers effectively resulted in pay cuts when considering the true rate of inflation, RPI, which stands at 9.1 per cent, the union claimed.
Mark Wain, Unite’s Lincat representative, said: “We didn’t get a response from management, nothing’s come forward, so we’ve issued them with further action for four weeks. They’ve acknowledged receipt of the strike and industrial action, but there’s been no forthcoming answer from the company regarding settlement. Minimum wage went up 9.7 per cent, that’s the target – we’re happy to negotiate, but that’s the target.”
Unite highlighted that Lincat’s skilled workforce has endured years of diminishing wage value. The hourly wage, which for most is £12.03, was once significantly above the minimum wage, but over the years, this gap has steadily decreased.
Lee Purslow, regional officer for Unite the Union, said: “It’s disappointing we’ve got to this point where the company won’t sit and talk to us. We’ve tried to negotiate with them, the company is adamant they wouldn’t go above a certain level, but the members rejected that because we don’t believe it’s good enough for the cost of living increase.”
He also noted the recent 12p per litre increase in fuel prices, adding: “The company’s making lots and lots of profit, but don’t seem to want to share it with the members that are just asking for a bit to get them by while we’re in this cost of living crisis.
“Unite has repeatedly made clear to Lincat that we are willing to enter negotiations to resolve this dispute – but the company has refused to engage. This dispute is entirely of Lincat’s own making. Its clients will not be happy they are facing disruption because of the company’s greed.”
Mick Turner, an employee, said the initial offer was “basically nothing”, adding: “After the year we’d had, that was a kick in the teeth, especially when you see other members in the hierarchy being rewarded over and over. I don’t think what we’re asking is unreasonable, especially with the amount of money this company makes.”
He said the next offer “still didn’t meet inflation”. He added: “It was basically a pay cut. Over the past five, six years we’ve got about £30-odd quid a week pay rise which is minimal, you can’t get much less and we need more. It’s only fair that everybody in the factory gets more.”
Another worker, Jim Greenhalgh, said: “It makes you feel disgruntled because they just keep rewarding each other at the top of the tree and the people at the bottom are getting the scraps falling off the tree. You don’t feel valued.”
According to its most recent financial reports, Lincat posted operating profits of £8.9 million for the year ending January 2022. The company is a subsidiary of the US-based Middleby Corporation, which reported revenues exceeding $1 billion in Q2 2023.
Lincat produces a diverse range of commercial kitchen appliances. The staff undertake various roles, including welding, press brake operations, assembly, and safety testing. This strike will cause significant disruptions to the factory, potentially delaying deliveries to pubs, restaurants, and canteens.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members’ resolve to receive a fair pay rise is rock solid. They know that Lincat and its owner Middleby are very profitable and can more than afford to put a reasonable offer forward.
“The only reason this is not happening is c.orporate greed. The workforce at Lincat have the full force of their union behind them as they fight for fair pay.”
When reporters reached out to Lincat for a statement, they were told: “We’ve got no comment, no comment at all.”