Pay dispute at Co-op Group coffin factory continues after second week’s strike action

The strike comes after members of Unite at the Co-op Funeralcare site in Glasgow rejected a pay offer

Trade union Unite said on Friday (4 November) that further industrial action will take place at the Co-op Group’s coffin factory, at the end of second week of strike action in a row over pay.

Around 50 workers at the Co-op Funeralcare site in Bogmoor Place, Glasgow, took part in the strike after voting to reject a pay offer, which the union says is below inflation. This follows an initial strike from 22-29 August.

Now Unite says there will be a third week of action at the site, from 14-21 November, after talks at ACAS broke up without agreement. It says additional strike dates will also be confirmed at a later date, with potential disruption into the new year if there is no resolution.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite representatives attended ACAS in the hope of an improved offer. The employer however failed to come to the meeting with anything more for our members and so strike action will continue with the full support of Unite. The Co-op should be under no illusion that Unite members are up for the fight.”

Willie Thomson, Unite regional officer said: “The determination of our members to win a fair wage deal remains resolute and Co-op Funeralcare must recognise this or risk a long and damaging dispute. It is totally unacceptable to ask our members to take a real term pay cut during a cost of living crisis. Our members deserve better. It’s time for the Co-op to show they are different from ‘bad bosses’ and come to the negotiating table with a significant offer to end this dispute. With the full backing of Unite our members will continue to fight for a decent wage.”

In response to last week’s dispute, the Group said it made a fair pay offer and said its funeral services would not be affected.

Its latest statement on the dispute says: “Our colleagues at our Glasgow coffin factory are a hugely valued part of our Co-op and following ongoing discussions with Unite we are disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement about pay.  

“In spite of the difficult trading environment, we have offered all of our colleagues at the coffin factory a fair pay increase. We are confident that the combined base pay and production bonus for roles within the Coffin Factory remain highly competitive. 

“We would like to provide full reassurance that the strike has no impact on our ability support to bereaved families and we are able to maintain a strong supply of coffins.”