Day of strike action at CPI William Clowes

By Rhys Handley, Wednesday 19 December 2018

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Unite members at CPI William Clowes will stage a 24-hour strike tomorrow (20 December) amid a pay dispute with management.

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CPI William Clowes employs 75 Unite members in a workforce of 110

According to the union’s statement, staff at the Beccles, Suffolk plant – part of CPI Group – have received two pay rises in the past 14 years, having taken a 1% bump in 2017 and a previous rise a decade earlier.

In April, management offered staff a two-year pay freeze from April 2018 which ultimately led to voting on industrial action. With 71% of the 75 Unite members onsite voting in favour of strike action, the first one-day strike took place in November and tomorrow’s is set to be followed by two more on 17 January and 13 February.

Members are already running an overtime ban.

Unite regional officer Mark Walker said: “We have seen revenue grow at CPI William Clowes by 10% in the past year. Although it is understandable that material costs have also risen, these issues are affecting all businesses in the print sector and they pass these costs on to their customers.

“As an employer, CPI has the luxury to do this, but employees cannot pass on costs if they are hit with an unexpected bill over Christmas and have to choose between paying it off or heating their homes, for instance.

“Many workers at the site have worked there for more than 30 years and have shown immense loyalty to the company even in hard times. CPI management needs to recognise how serious it is that workers have chosen to take this action and stop trying to ride out this action.

“We need to get around the negotiation table.”

According to Walker, members are currently in discussions with their committees locally and at group-level about additional strike days if management does not budge.

Commercial print operation CPI William Clowes employs a workforce of 110 and it is not clear whether the base will be able to sustain its full operations on the remaining 35 staff while the strike takes place. Unite members will be on the picket line from 5.30am.

CPI William Clowes management had not responded to request for comment at the time of writing.

In July, €360m-turnover (£320m) CPI Group was acquired by Circle Media Group. France-headquartered CPI’s sales are circa £100m.

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