WORKERS at an Irvine pharmaceutical plant have begun a fortnight of strike action in a dispute over bonus payments.

Members of the Unite union employed in engineering construction roles at GSK, in Shewalton Road, started the walkout this morning (Monday, January 9).

Around 40 employees of contractor KAEFER Limited are seeking a bonus payment of £2.37 an hour, the maximum allowed under the relevant industrial agreement (National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry).

The strike action started today at 7.30am and it will continue each day up to January 23. There will also be an overtime ban in force which will last until April 2.

Union representatives said the industrial action will directly impact on the maintenance of the Irvine plant.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “GSK, which operates the Irvine plant, is making eye-watering profits. Paying our members the bonus they are seeking is like a drop in the ocean to their overflowing coffers.

"Yet, the contractor KAEFER, who we are directly in dispute with onsite, refuses to award our members what they are entitled to.

"The workers will have Unite’s 100 per cent backing in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The strike action at the Irvine plant involves electricians, scaffolders, cable pullers and labourers.

According to Unite, GSK recorded sales of £7.8 billion in the third quarter of 2022, and a total operating profit of £1.2 billion.

Unite industrial officer Paul Bennett added: “The strike action will cause considerable disruption and it will lead to significant delays in maintenance issues affecting GSK’s Irvine plant.

"The dispute has been contrived entirely by the contractor Kaefer and GSK as the client steadfastly refusing to pay a bonus.

“Our members don’t want to be in this position but they have been forced to take this action in order to get what they are entitled to under a UK-wide bargaining agreement.

"The action will continue until our members get what they deserve.”

GSK said that they "don’t anticipate any impact on our manufacturing operations" as a result of the strike by KAEFER employees.

A KAEFER spokesperson said: “We continue to support constructive dialogue between Unite and KAEFER to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

"The safety of our teams remains paramount and will not be affected by any potential industrial action.”