500 workers at the Basildon plant of New Holland are threatening strike action over what they claim is a broken promise by the company to calculate pay increases based on the average rate of inflation.

The original deal was struck in late June 2022 following the threat of strike action by Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union.

Unite claims that for 2024, the wage increase should be 7.4%, not the 4% being offered, while for 2025, CNH appears to be offering the rate of inflation as of December 2024.

This disagreement has led the union to organise a series of three-day strikes starting on May 14, with two more during the following two weeks. This action follows a ballot of its members in March.

Unite has stated that it will affect nearly the whole of the shop floor and more strikes will follow if the the dispute is not resolved.

New Holland under fire

CNH is Basildon’s largest employer with a total of around 800 staff working at the 100ac site which lies less than than an hour’s drive from central London.

On its website the union noted that the “CNH Group reported record profits of £2.4 billion in 2023, and profits are forecast to stay high for the next three years”.

New Holland visitor centre
Costing £1.2m in 2014 the customer centre appears to be one of the few major investments in the plant over the last decade

It also compared the remuneration of the departing CEO, Scott Wine, who received a total compensation package of £19 million in 2022, with the pay of the average worker at CNH Group, claiming that Wine received 310 times as much.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The pay deal with New Holland was agreed in good faith and the company’s extremely healthy finances show that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for it not to be adhered to.”

Threat of tractor shortage

The union believes that the strike action will severely compromise the supply of New Holland tractors from the 60-year-old factory, which is now purely an assembly plant with no components being manufactured on site.

However, after reduced sales in the early part of 2024, the effect on tractor supply might take some time to be felt as stocks being held in the delivery pipeline are used up.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook added: “Strike action can still be avoided if CNH stops trying to ‘double cross’ its workers and sticks to the original agreement.”

So far CNH has not released any comment upon the situation.