“The strike is still the most effective tool a union can use.” – Interview with MM worker

In May workers at MM Bangor took strike action, demanding an inflation-proofed pay increase.

In May workers at MM Bangor took strike action, demanding an inflation-proofed pay increase. Owned by one of the biggest agricultural suppliers globally (Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG), MM Bangor paid their workers just barely above the minimum wage despite making huge profits. After 6 days of strike action that shut down production at the site, the workers won a 13% pay increase.

The Socialist spoke to Tylor Crawford, Unite rep at the site, about the victory.

Can you tell us a bit about why you were on strike?

“We were on strike for a pay rise in line with inflation, with below par pay increases over the previous years it was imperative that we secured a significant increase to help ease the current economic crisis our members are feeling”. 

How did you and your coworkers reach the decision to take industrial action?

“We engaged in talks with the company around October/November but the same pattern from previous years started to form. We decided to meet with the members and informed them that our next option was to secret ballot for industrial action. The results were overwhelming with a 100% turnout and 95% in favour to take action.”

How were you able to ensure the strike worked?

“Careful planning and managing our expectations, we wanted the strike to last as short as possible so as to less affect our members financially, however if needs be we were ready for the long haul. We knew we would be subjected to aggressive tactics with the PSNI at one stage acting as personal security for the company. Our aim after this was to maintain the high morale and with this we were able to drive home a 13% pay rise for the workforce.”

Do you have any advice for other workers taking strike action in the midst of the cost of living crisis?

“The strike is still the most effective tool a union can use. What we also noticed was the bond it created between our members. Once we returned, our members have carried this solidarity and unity forward into the workplace and have continued with their heads held high. I would advise anyone who is nearing the stage of strike action to remember that planning is key and not to worry about the short term financial effects but look forward to the long term advantages, not only with increased pay but the togetherness moving forward into future negotiations.”

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