The Daily Telegraph

Floor factory closes for day staff plan two-hour walkout

- By Lucy Burton

MANAGERS of a flooring factory are to shut the site down to limit the impact of a planned strike, in a move that workers have branded a “vindictive attack” on their rights.

GMB Union has accused Manchester­based Polyflor of dishing out millions of pounds to shareholde­rs while suspending workers’ shifts before they walk out today in a dispute over pay.

Polyflor directors hit back at the union, arguing that “due to economic inefficien­cies” they have been forced to shutdown their factory on strike days.

Pointing to supplier problems, labour shortages and energy cost increases, the company said: “The closing down and restarting of the factory for a twohour withdrawal of labour as organised by the GMB is significan­tly problemati­c.

“While we have not laid off any of our employees they have, unavoidabl­y, been unable to work on days when the factory is closed.”

The row highlights the conflict between companies and workers this year as thousands of staff across the country stage strikes in disputes over pay and conditions in the face of soaring inflation and rising energy bills.

Staff have been calling for better pay at Polyflor for weeks, with members recently rejecting a compromise offer.

Nicholas Le Riche, an employment partner at BDP Pitmans, said that from a legal standpoint the business should be able to close factories and stop staff from working “provided they have a contractua­l right to do so”.

Stephen Boden, GMB’S regional organiser, said yesterday the union has written to the company demanding an explanatio­n.

Mr Boden added: “GMB members are struggling with the cost of living crisis, all they are looking for is a fair settlement of 10pc, which is still below inflation.”

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