Thompson in talks to settle overtime strike

Workers at Thompson Chassis in Bilston near Wolverhampton were due to go back to work yesterday following a dispute with management. According to AEEU regional officer Alan Beddows, the plant’s 390 staff walked out on Saturday following the dismissal of 34 workers the day before. Beddows said the workers on the Vauxhall line had been […]

Workers at Thompson Chassis in Bilston near Wolverhampton were due to go back to work yesterday following a dispute with management.

According to AEEU regional officer Alan Beddows, the plant’s 390 staff walked out on Saturday following the dismissal of 34 workers the day before.

Beddows said the workers on the Vauxhall line had been dismissed on the Friday after having refused to work additional overtime. On the Wednesday before, their pay has been cut by £15 a week without consultation, claimed Beddows.

The sacked workers have now been reinstated, said Beddows, and the AEEU, Acas and management are due to meet next week ‘to sort the problems out’.

A worker at the plant said they had been told they had to go back to work as the strike action had been illegal. ‘We’ll hold a ballot next time,’ he said.

All 390 staff have now joined the union, claimed Beddows.

The company refused to comment on the dispute.

The Bilston plant supplies chassis to a number of vehicle manufacturers including the Solihull Land Rover plant for the Discovery model. A Land Rover spokesman said shortage of chassis had led it to drop about 100 vehicles over the last few shifts.

Thompson Chassis is part of Wolverhampton-based UPF Group, which has seven manufacturing sites, including one in Germany.

Chairman and chief executive Keith Evans last month led a management buy-out of UPF with Phildrew Ventures via a specially created company, Hartrade. The shareholding’s purchase price was £42.8m, but the whole funding totalled £73m, including substantial working capital.

UPF’s interim results to the end of February showed turnover down 4% to £30.2m and profit before tax down to £3.6m from £3.8m. Evans attributed the fall to a temporary reduction in customer requirements and the effects of sterling. In that period almost £5m was invested in chassis production facilities, including robotic assembly equipment.