Last year, our members at Sherwin Williams (Speke, Liverpool) reluctantly accepted a 4% pay rise. This year, they are determined to receive a better pay offer, which equates for the changes throughout the site; including a smaller workforce, a 33.9% increase in retained profits on the previous years and an enormous turnaround in the site's productivity and standards.
Earlier this year on January 10th, despite the company’s pledge to get things done as quickly as possible, we had to approach them regarding this year's pay deal. At the meeting, our workplace rep, Gary Edwards, rightly suggested that it was the company’s responsibility to value their workforce and put an offer on the table that displays their appreciation for the improvements throughout the site.
Despite the sense of urgency from our end, the company did not act for almost two months, when on February 28th they offered an insulting 5% pay rise; a mere additional 1% on last year's offer, with no acknowledgment of having fewer salaries to pay, 33.9% retained profits nor the site becoming a textbook example for others to follow. Unsurprisingly, this offer was unanimously rejected by our members. Furthermore, we asked whether this offer was final, to which the company did not respond until April 5th. The measly 5% remained, however there was a slight improvement with a £1000 one off payment, which was quickly overshadowed by changes to shift times, and an increase in hours per week.
Once again, our members decided this was not enough, considering the internal changes and external pressures from the cost-of-living crisis, they chose to unanimously reject this offer as well. Moreover, members took the decision to vote in favour of action up to and including strike action. In the meantime, adding insult to injury, the annual company share bonus was awarded, which is typically £1,100 per employee, however this year it was reduced to £656, despite the company enjoying a record £201m turnover, which is a 69% increase on the previous year. Last but not least, currently the company’s credit score is 97/100, which suggests a very low risk of business failure over the next twelve months; and supports our assertions that the company can and must offer a better pay deal for our members.
Industrial action is a last resort for our members, it is never taken lightly due to the physical and emotional pressures it can have. Nonetheless, we feel so strongly that Sherwin Williams are undervaluing our members, and for that we must act. Notice was served to the employer on April 26th, followed by the Civica ballot running from May 04th to 18th. Our members desire a 10% pay rise, and in the meantime will be working to rule. If no negations or changes to the offer are made in due course, then we anticipate strike dates will be scheduled throughout June 2023.