Denby pottery pay dispute could end in industrial action

Workers at Denby Pottery are set to take industrial action after bosses refused a pay rise.

About 180 employees at the Derby Road firm will take one day of action later this month after bosses turned down an offer by ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to resolve the dispute. Union leaders say the workforce is angry because the firm has increased its international sales by 300 per cent with the support of a £7 million asset-based loan from Lloyds TSB.

Harry Hockaday, general secretary of union Unity, said: “Unfortunately the company was absolutely immoveable. Our rates have fallen behind. They are taking on agency labour and there is plenty of overtime. Their figures are very good. I am disappointed they were not prepared to speak to ACAS”

Workers were offered a lump-sum payment of £100, which would be paid in March next year, if they hit another high profit margin. But Mr Hockaday described the offer as “unacceptable.” He added: “The implications of a bonus in place of an increase to rates of pay is that they are reducing the rates of pay by stealth.”

A spokesman for the firm said: “The management has taken the difficult decision not to offer a pay increase to any employee this year to secure jobs in what continues to be a tough trading environment.”

He said the £7m Lloyds facility helps with cash flow and is not investment funding. The firm denied it was experiencing a boom and said trading in the USA and UK markets has seen “modest growth”, while the sales turnover of Denby has seen “marginal growth.”

Employees received a pay increase of 2 per cent in 2010 and 2.5 per cent in 2012 - which Unity says is the equivalent of a 4.5 per cent pay raise while the industry average is around 8.5 per cent over the same period.