• Thursday, June 30, 2022

Business

Workers strike for pay hike at Ashok Leyland’s UK subsidiary

Photo: Optare

By: Pramod Thomas

AROUND 500 workers at the Optare bus manufacturing plant in Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, are striking for pay increase.

Optare is a subsidiary of the Indian vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland, run by the Hinduja group.

The workers said that there was no pay hike at the plant for the last two years.

The 100 Unite union members at the plant voted by a 73 percent majority for action. From November 17, they escalated action by holding four-day strikes which are continuing.  are employed at the site.

According to reports, Optare reneged on its promise to implement a pay rise from November 2019. The union had been in negotiations with the company for the previous 18 months.

In 2010, Ashok Leyland group acquired a 26 per cent share in Optare, and increased it to 75 per cent in 2011.

It now has a 99 per cent share and total control. Under Ashok Leyland, Optare closed its East Lancashire site in 2012 after moving further out from its east Leeds site to a newly built facility in Sherburn-in-Elmet in 2011.

Ashok Leyland, the one-time subsidiary of British Leyland, is headquartered in Chennai, India. It is world’s third largest bus manufacturer, 10th largest truck producer and India’s second largest commercial vehicles maker.

In 2019, Optare reported around £49 million revenues, almost doubling the previous year’s, but showed a near £9m loss after tax.

In May this year, Optare, along with the UK other major bus manufacturers, Wrightbus, and Alexander Dennis, have requested for government funding to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

“Without immediate support, future orders will not be forthcoming, putting over 10,000 jobs and apprenticeship opportunities at risk,” they said.

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