Coffin factory workers start week-long strike

The Co-op Funeralcare picket line
The Co-op Funeralcare picket line manned by members of the UNITE trade union.

By Lucy Ashton

Staff at the Co-op’s only UK coffin manufacturing factory are taking further strike action.

The Unite union said about 50 workers at the Co-op factory in Glasgow will walk out for a week from Monday until Sunday 11 December.

This is the third month of strike action at the factory with the union warning more walkouts are likely next year.

Factory workers rejected a pay offer of 4% for 2022 and 5% for 2023.

Co-op Funeralcare said it had made a new pay offer last week that represented a “significant increase” and was disappointed that Unite had not put this to its members.

A spokesman said the company remained open to further discussions.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The Co-op seem to be revelling in playing the role of Scrooge this Christmas.

“Unite’s members deserve a fair pay award yet they have been made an offer which falls three times behind the current cost of living.

“This is totally unacceptable and our members will have their union’s full backing in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Increased costs

In a statement, Co-op Funeralcare, who have branches across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute,  said: “We recognise the valuable contribution that our coffin factory workers make to our Co-op. In-spite of ongoing strike action, we would like to offer reassurance that our coffin supply remains strong.

“We recognise that the rising cost of living is impacting our colleagues and we have ensured that the combined base pay and production bonus for roles within the Coffin Factory remain extremely competitive.”

It added: “As a major national employer that is facing into high inflation and increased costs, we have worked hard to balance the requests from our employees at the coffin factory with our wider colleague population.

“At a time where we have had to make some tough decisions in terms of reducing roles across our business, we have made a further fair pay offer to Unite in the last week. This represented a significant increase for colleagues.

“We are disappointed that this has been rejected by Unite, who chose not to take the offer to their members for ballot, and we remain open to further discussions with them and their members in seeking to reach an agreement on pay.”

The company previously insisted the strike action would not affect bereaved families or its supply of coffins.

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