Klarius Stoke-on-Trent strikes intensify after inadequate sick pay offer rejected

Workers angry over ‘disgraceful’ fire and rehire sick pay threats

Striking Stoke-on-Trent workers employed by Klarius Products have rejected an inadequate sick pay offer from the company and will intensify their strike action, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Monday).

The workers began a series of strikes in September in response to the company’s threats to fire and rehire them in order to drastically reduce sick pay for some of its most long serving and loyal workforce.

The problems at the company are a result of the creation of a two-tier workforce. Workers on the traditional contracts receive a very fair company sick pay scheme, while workers on the inferior, newer contracts only receive statutory sick pay (SSP). 

Klarius’ solution is to introduce a new sick pay scheme, but it would result in many workers experiencing sizeable cuts in their entitlement.

The workers have since rejected an offer from the company that would have seen their sick pay reduced over three years to just two weeks from five. This is not acceptable to Unite’s membership as they have sacrificed terms and conditions in previous years in order to retain the original sick pay scheme.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Klarius is attacking its workers’ sick pay entitlement out of greed and is using the most disgraceful means – fire and rehire – to do it. This is a company that makes millions in profits, it has more than enough to support a fair sick pay policy.

“Unite is unflinching in its defence of members’ jobs, pay and conditions and Klarius’ workforce have the full force of their union behind them.”

Klarius is in a healthy financial position and its latest accounts filed at Companies House show that it had gross profits of nearly £8 million.

The company produces parts and spares for car emission equipment including exhausts, catalytic converters, diesel particulate filters, mounting and accessories, including aerosols and Adblue.

The workers have taken 16 days of strike action since 12 September. They will now strike Monday through to Friday every week from 6 November to 1 December. 

Unite regional officer Melvyn Palmer said: “Our members’ determination is rock solid. Klarius should be levelling up its two tier workforce, not levelling down. The dispute will not be resolved until the company take the fire and rehire threats off the table and stops trying to attack its workers’ sick pay.”