WORKERS at a Great Harwood engineering plant have voted to go on strike to demand a pay rise.

The mains layers and road re-surfacers at the McAlpines depot, in Heys Lane, Great Harwood, voted overwhelmingly in favour of a walkout.

More than 94 per cent of the 130 union members at three depots across the North West voted in favour of industrial action.

The company is now facing a series of one and three-day actions throughout June and July. In February workers at the Great Harwood plant staged a one-day strike saying they hadn't been given a rise for two years.

Management at the site offered the workers a bonus scheme to increase their take-home pay but workers have consistently said the pay rise must come first.

Both sides met this month to try and settle the matter but the stand-off continued and a show of hands revealed the workers were unanimously in favour of action. A subsequent internal postal ballot among members of the GMB union returned a 98 per cent vote in favour of action.

The union told the company they would be balloting members on whether to strike if the company didn't respond by a set date, and members have been voting for nearly two weeks.

Meanwhile the company is refusing to recognise the union, which represents 130 of its workers in the north west even though the GMB says it has around 60 per cent membership across sites in Great Harwood, Liverpool and Blackpool.

Paul Hogarth, senior organiser for the GMB, said: "I'm hoping the company now realises the sincere nature of our members' feelings and come to the negotiating table as quickly as possible to solve this dispute." He said the union would go to the Central Arbitration Committee, an independent arbitration service, if necessary to gain recognition at McAlpines.

Kevin Hunt, a shop steward at the Great Harwood plant, said: "They are forcing our hand. All we want is a rise, which we haven't had for two and a half years. Things go up, like council tax, every year. All we were asking for was a cost of living rise. If we had got that I think people would have been quite happy, but we were told in February we wouldn't get anything for 18 months.

"They tried bringing in a bonus scheme but it's so complicated it will never work. You have got to be on certain jobs to get it, and then it's not guaranteed. Everybody has just had enough. They don't want to strike - that's the last thing they want but at the end of the day they don't feel they have an alternative."

A spokesman for the company said: "Neil Holden, regional manager for the GMB is currently on holiday and unfortunately is not contactable until next week. In the meantime we await the official report from the election scrutineer and the formal response from the GMB. We will continue to negotiate with the GMB to reach an amicable conclusion."