British Engines workers in Newcastle and Jarrow to strike over pay and claim real terms pay cut

The Michell Bearings factory in South Shields, one of three British Engines sites in the North East where workers have voted for strike action
The Michell Bearings factory in South Shields, one of three British Engines sites in the North East where workers have voted for strike action -Credit:handout from British Engines

Around 170 British Engines workers in Newcastle and South Tyneside are set to strike over pay for six days later this month.

The strikes will impact three British Engines businesses; BEL Engineering in Newcastle, and Rotary Power and Michell Bearings in Jarrow. Union Unite says workers are angry at being offered a three per cent pay rise and each workplace voted overwhelmingly for strike action in three separate ballots.

The union claims the offer is a real terms pay cut given that the rate of inflation, RPI, is still above four per cent. They also say that due to five years of below-inflation pay deals, workers wages have fallen by 18 per cent in real terms since 2019.

British Engines latest financial report shows that the company turned a profit of £5.6 million in 2022, and £5.4 million in 2021. Strikes will impact supply chains for aerospace, civil nuclear, oil and gas, defence and marine industries.

BEL Engineering provides specialist engineering design and manufacturing services, Rotary Power produces hydraulic motors and pumps, and Michell Bearings makes hydrodynamic bearings.

Anna Lavery, Unite regional officer, said: "British Engines’ clients will not be pleased that their supply chains are being disrupted because of the company’s greed. There is still time to avoid strike action but that will require British Engines’ leadership to put forward three acceptable offers."

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, added: "British Engines' workers are sick and tired of seeing their pay go down year after year while the company makes millions in profits.

"British Engines can afford to put forward a fair deal and our members are absolutely right to strike for one. They have Unite’s total support in taking industrial action for a reasonable pay rise."

A spokesperson from the companies said: "We offer highly competitive salaries within the sectors that the businesses operate and believe that the proposal we have made is fair and reasonable. Last year the businesses awarded a 7% pay rise applied early to provide timely support to all of our employees, on top of competitive sector increases in prior years.

"It is disappointing that the Unite members of the three businesses have chosen to undertake industrial strike action from May 24, despite multiple offers aimed at reaching a resolution. We remain dedicated to investing in the businesses in terms of people, processes and facilities for their long term sustainability and will continue to work with members to seek a resolution."

British Engines strike action is set to begin on Friday, May 24.