TMD Friction strikes off after pay deal reached

Pay strikes at TMD Friction’s Hartlepool factory, which saw more than half the workforce walk out since the start of January, have been called off after a deal was reached.

Over 180 workers, all members of union Unite, took to the picket lines as part of a dispute that started last June when they rejected a 4% pay increase as it stood below the rate of inflation.

At the time they said strike action would be “indefinite”.

Today a deal has been reached, with workers agreeing to an 11% pay increase: 7.5% backdated to June 2023 and 3.5% from this June.

The deal stipulates that if inflation hits 5% in June then a pay review would be triggered in January 2025.

As well as this, if any other TMD employee at the Hartlepool site outside of the Unite bargaining unit receives a higher rise during the length of the deal, then Unite members will be paid the difference.

TMD workers on the picket line in January

CAT has contacted TMD Friction, as well as its parent company AEQUITA, for a response. Neither responded to requests for comment during the strikes.

Following the deal, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at TMD Friction would not be moved and their determination on the picket line secured a vastly improved pay offer.”

Why the strikes took place

Industrial action followed after pay talks between Unite reps and TMD stalled at the end of 2023. Unite regional officer Mike Routledge said at the time: “This dispute will not end until an acceptable offer is put forward.”

Unite said those picketing members – the majority of whom are metal press operators – were “angry at the low pay on offer from their employer during a cost-of-living crisis”.

It comes after TMD was sold by Nisshinbo Holdings to German-equity firm AEQUITA last year. The Munich firm’s automotive divisions account for €2 billion worth of sales.

Due to the strikes – which started earlier this month but have now escalated – there were worries that product shortages may ensue, although nothing has been confirmed by the firm itself. The brand makes brakes for car makers including Rolls Royce, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Bentley and McLaren.

Speaking to local publication Hartlepool Mail from the picket line in January, TMD production operator of 16 years Kevin Tritschler said on pay rises: “We haven’t had anything decent for a few years”.

He added: “We think we deserve it with inflation and everything going on. We all feel strongly about it and we are sticking to our guns.”

This was a point backed by fellow production operator Michael Noble. “We have got to the point where we all agree that we need to,” he said about the strikes.

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