The technician workforce at Mercedes Benz Retail Group (MBRG) will strike for four days later this month in a pay dispute amid accusations that the bosses are adopting ‘divide and rule’ tactics over pay.
Unite the union said that its 185 members across nine sites had voted before Christmas by majorities of 80 to 100 per cent to hold strike action, after they faced a second year without a pay rise.
The workers at the MBRG sites – Brentford, Brooklands, Colindale, Croydon, Heathrow, Loughton, Temple Fortune, Stratford and Watford – will strike between Tuesday 25 January and Friday 28 January.
Talks have been held since Christmas and the management offered a 1.5 per pay rise that was rejected by Unite’s members. Since then, the union said that the bosses had attempted ‘divide and rule’ tactics by offering a pay rise to non-Unite employees.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This business is actually owned by the highly profitable Daimler AG which, after two years of pay freezes, can well afford a decent inflation-beating pay rise for our members. Instead of making a decent offer, the bosses are now stooping to disgraceful ‘divide and rule’ tactics.
“The company said it has decided to award an unexpected pay rise to all employees not covered by Unite’s bargaining units, which is an attack on our members because they voted for strike action. We obviously take this very seriously and given that talks are stalling again, strike dates have been announced for the end of the month when the company will be at one of its busiest periods.”
Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “There is now a window of opportunity for the MBRG management to come to the table with a decent offer, given the RPI rate of inflation of 7.1 per cent. The strike action at this time of the year will cause significant financial loss to this prestige marque.
“The Mercedes Benz brand has a reputation for high quality and first class customer service, but its industrial relations are currently running on empty.”
Daimler AG increased its net profits in 2020, despite the trading difficulties caused by the pandemic. Unite said dividends for Daimler have raced ahead, while employee wages have stalled.
According to Daimler’s website: In 2020, net profit improved to €4.0 billion (2019: €2.7 billion). Net profit attributable to the shareholders of Daimler AG amounted to €3.6 billion (2019: €2.4 billion), leading to an increase in earnings per share to €3.39 (2019: €2.22). At the Annual General Meeting on March 31, 2021, the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will propose a dividend of €1.35 per share (2019: €0.90). The total payout will therefore amount to €1.4 billion (2019: €1.0 billion)