4 September 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Novelis seeks conclusion to industrial action

Aluminium rolling and recycling company Novelis said it is seeking to find a solution to end industrial action at its plant in Warrington, which is scheduled to resume later this month.

More than 100 staff picketed outside the plant at Latchford Locks as part of industrial action over pay which began last Thursday (29 August) and continued into this week.

Operations at the Latchford Locks plant near Warrington

Industrial action, which is being led by the GMB Union, is over a proposed pay rise for staff at the plant. Novelis is offering workers a 2.75% pay increase, but the union is seeking an increase of up to 3%.

Commenting on the dispute, GMB union officer Steve Boden said the parties are looking to continue negotiating. “The company is not willing to move at the moment, we are imploring them to get back round the table. There doesn’t seem to be much movement unfortunately. This is one of the primary recycling facilities in Europe, a huge turnover heading towards £500 million a year.

“It is very profitable but they are taking a hard-line approach and do not want to pay. They need to invest in the workforce, that’s not just training, it is relating to pay.”

Novelis

Novelis is the largest buyer of aluminium cans in Europe and says its facility in Warrington – built in 1991 – has the capacity to process every aluminium beverage can sold in the UK, the equivalent to around 117,000 tonnes a year.

The company takes in material from local authorities and commercial outlets in the UK and imports some tonnages from Nordic countries. These are processed at Warrington where they are shredded, decoated and melted into an ingot which is transported to Germany by road and train. In Germany the ingot is used for rolling into a sheet for can-makers.

Novelis has been less active in the market in recent months, with maintenance work inclduing on the Latchford plant’s casting pit also impacting operations.

Resolution

Commenting on the industrial action from on behalf of Novelis, plant manager Neil Oakes said the company will continue to work with the union in a bid to find a resolution.

“We were recently notified by the GMB – North West & Irish Region that their members within the Latchford workforce intend to take industrial action,“ he said.

“Whilst we regret the escalation of the situation, we will continue to work with the union to resolve the outstanding issues in a satisfactory manner as quickly as possible. We are evaluating our capabilities to continue to operate in a safe and efficient manner during the proposed action, whilst minimising the impact on our production capacities. “

Further strikes are scheduled to continue between 03:00- 11:00 on the 16th, 24th and 26th September.

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