Drivers at Elland-based paving manufacturer Marshalls plc are set to vote on industrial action in a dispute about overtime pay.
Union Unite said it expects to ballot drivers who deliver to builders’ merchants from 14 Marshalls manufacturing sites UK-wide – and warned that industrial action could cause severe disruption to the building trade.
Marshalls’ two biggest customers are Travis Perkins with 1,900 outlets and Jewson with more than 600 branches. The proposed ballot comes as retailers gear up for an expected rise in seasonal demand for stone paving from home improvers and builders.
Marshalls said it was disappointed that the union has decided to pre-empt discussions – adding that Unite itself had taken the issue “off the table” during annual pay talks last year and had not raised the issue as a formal dispute.
The union said there was a disparity in pay at the company – with Marshalls’ drivers receiving time and a third for overtime worked, while manufacturing employees got time and a half.
Unite said the overtime dispute was given “extra piquancy” by the fact that Marshalls chief executive Martyn Coffey received an 87% rise in his remuneration package last year, taking his pay to more than £2m.
The union has not spelled out what form industrial action might take or when the ballot will be called.
John Allott, Unite national officer for building trades, said: “We are preparing to hold an industrial action ballot on the inequality in overtime rates between the drivers and the manufacturing workforce. We are calling for fairness on this issue, especially given the massive hike in Martin Coffey’s executive pay.
“The two biggest customers of Marshalls – Travis Perkins and Jewson – will be severely hit, with a big ripple effect on their own customers if strike action goes ahead.
“We call on the company to sit down and negotiate on the issue of our members’ overtime pay, so we can reach a fair settlement.”
Susie Fehr, group HR director at Marshalls, said: “Marshalls has for many years enjoyed a collaborative and supportive relationship with Unite as the principle union represented within the business.
“Late last year during the annual pay negotiation there was discussion regarding a number of other issues including this specific issue of overtime. Unite decided to take this issue off the table on the basis that it pertained to a limited group of employees. The result of the annual pay negotiation was that an increase of 2.5% was agreed.
“The company remains committed to finding an appropriate internal solution and most recently communicated with the impacted employees on 11th April and are looking forward to the ongoing dialogue.
“Marshalls is therefore disappointed that the union has decided to pre-empt these discussions and has not raised this as a formal dispute.”