(Reuters) – Hundreds of GlaxoSmithKline workers have voted to strike against the drugmaker’s pay raise being well below the rate of inflation, British labour union Unite said on Wednesday.
Unite said 86% of its about 700 GSK members voted yes, giving the British company a 48-hour window to improve its pay offer before the strike action is announced.
This is the first time Unite’s GSK members have voted for a strike, with the action coming while Britain faces the biggest squeeze on household incomes since at least the 1950s. The country’s inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 7% in March.
“We are disappointed that the Unite union has taken the decision to strike, but remain committed to working with them to find a solution,” a GSK spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Unite had rejected GSK’s initial offer of a 2.75% pay rise, as well as an increase of 4%, saying it would have still been a pay cut in comparison with the current inflation rate.
“We have offered a 4% increase to base salary, in addition to a one-off award – equivalent to around 2% of base salary – as well as an annual bonus for 2021, which paid out above-target,” GSK said.
The British drugmaker employs about 3,500 people at its UK pharma manufacturing sites and has a total of 13,000 employees in the UK.
Britain’s biggest broadband and mobile operator BT also faces a possible industrial action over pay for its frontline workers.
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)