First picket line in four decades

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A PICKET line was in place for the first time in four decades at the FMC Biopolymer plant in Girvan last week.

Members of the Unite union at the factory, which is one of only three FMC BioPolymer manufacturing sites worldwide, had decided to strike for the first time since 1972 after demands for a pay rise were refused by the company, which has its headquarters in the United States.

Workers say the less than three per cent final offer is “unsatisfactory”, and comes on the back of previous below inflation increases.

In addition the business has announced in the past week a directive from its American owners to cut a further “six figure sum” from the budget at Girvan, which has heightened concerns for the future security of jobs at the site. Three years ago nearly 150 employees were made redundant at the plant following the takeover by FMC.

Unite Regional Officer Paul Neilson said “It is apparent that the owners of the business have decided to dig their heels in and have refused to respond in a constructive way to the ballot outcome.

“Despite some indications that movement may be possible, no new offer has been tabled and Unite members will now find themselves on a picket line for the first time in three generations. The refusal to negotiate further on pay also ignores the profitability of FMC, and the continued excellent work of our members at Girvan in delivering for their customers.

“Our members, most of whom are longstanding employees, now feel they have been reluctantly forced to take this course of action.

“They live, work and contribute wholeheartedly to the local community, and the overwhelming decision to take strike action is a reflection of their anger and frustration at the Company’s stance.”

The Unite union says it is prepared to meet the company at the earliest opportunity to find a resolution to this situation, and hopes that the business will “see the sense in resolving this dispute”, in the form of an increased offer, the cost of which they say would be “minimal, given the profits of the business”.