The luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce and the logistics company Wincanton have both given workers in the UK above-inflation pay rises, averting threatened industrial action.
About 1,200 workers at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars factory in Goodwood, West Sussex, will receive an increase of 10%, plus a £2,000 bonus. Together, the increase will be worth up to an extra 18% for 2023.
Meanwhile, 150 Wincanton employees driving fuel tankers for the oil refiner Valero will receive pay rises worth between 20% and 37%, depending on their existing contracts. The Unite union said the deal would bring the drivers’ pay rates in line with those working at other refineries.
British workers have voted in favour of a series of strikes across the UK economy in recent months, with factors including the surge in inflation, particularly in energy costs, plus the continued low rate of unemployment. The UK’s consumer price index, the most closely followed measure of household inflation, rose by 10.7% in the year to November, nearly the fastest in four decades.
The UK recorded 417,000 working days lost to labour disputes in October, the Office for National Statistics reported on Tuesday. Union estimates forecast that more than 1m working days will be lost in December, which would make it the worst month for disruption since July 1989, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.
The workers, who were represented by the Unite union in the two separate disputes, voted in favour of industrial action at both companies.
Rolls-Royce, which is owned by the German carmaker BMW, produces all of its models, including the Phantom saloon and the Cullinan SUV, at its Goodwood factory. Its production processes include a large amount of handmade parts.
Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said the Rolls-Royce agreement was “a top-notch pay deal”.
“For years the workers had been underpaid and undervalued, but that’s changing,” she said. “The union has won the best pay deal since the site opened.”
Rolls-Royce said: “In the course of our normal pay negotiations process, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was pleased that Unite the union supported and recommended a positive pay deal. Negotiations were cordial and constructive throughout.”
For Wincanton, the dispute came amid a shortage of trained drivers of heavy goods vehicles. Drivers of potentially dangerous goods, such as flammable liquids or explosives, need to pass extensive training, meaning it can take some time for companies to find new workers. Valero operates an oil refinery in Pembroke, south Wales.
Graham said the Wincanton deal was a “huge pay victory”, and added that the threat of industrial action had been effective.
A Wincanton spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached a positive outcome that satisfies all parties.”