Drugmaker GSK faces strike over ‘paltry’ wage offer | Money

The logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is seen on its office building in Shanghai July 12, 2013. – Reuters pic

LONDON, April 20 – Hundreds of British workers at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline are set to strike over a “paltry” wage offer well below the level of British inflation, a union announced today.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has accused GSK of “colossal corporate greed” for an effective pay cut in real terms as Britain experiences its highest inflation in 30 years.

GSK said it was “disappointed that the Unite union had taken the decision to strike”, adding that the British group “remains committed to… a solution”.

He said in a statement: “We recognize the impact of inflation rates on people across the country and are strongly committed to supporting the skilled people who work in GSK manufacturing.”

About 500 Unite members, or about 13% of GSK’s manufacturing workforce in the UK, voted to strike, the drug group said. GSK said it offered a 4% increase in base salary plus one-time rewards.

Unite said the wage offer was 2.75%.

Britain’s official annual inflation rate stands at 7% – and is expected to hit double figures by the end of 2022 – already prompting widespread concerns about a cost of living crisis as prices food and energy soar.

GSK’s net profit stood at £4.4 billion (RM24 billion) last year, while revenue topped £34 billion.

“Never before have our GSK members voted for strike action – their anger is a clear response to the company’s colossal greed,” said Graham of Unite.

She added that GSK “expects its workforce to swallow a pay cut amid a cost of living crisis”.

It comes as chief executive Emma Walmsley seeks to reshape GSK after facing heavy criticism from investors over the company’s lagging production of Covid bites and treatments.

In the UK transport sector, the RMT union said on Wednesday that more than 40,000 railway workers were to be voted out for strike action in disputes over jobs and wages.

It follows a recent strike by workers on London’s underground rail network. —AFP