Strike to hit NW bookies during Grand National

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Clerks at Sean Graham bookies, in Londonderry and Claudy, are to strike over ‘poverty pay’ and staff safety during the Grand National, following stoppages during the Cheltenham festival.

Davy McMurray, Unite officer for staff in Sean Graham bookmakers said: “SP Graham Ltd is a highly successful bookmaker. They can well afford to pay their workers a Living Wage. Their current offer leaves workers just nine pence an hour above the bare legal minimum and was overwhelmingly rejected by the workforce.

“Management at SP Graham have completely underestimated the determination of their workforce to obtain a Living Wage. On Friday we witnessed the second day of strike action in what should have been a highly profitable week for the bookmakers.

“Attempts to undermine the strike by employing administrative staff at counters failed as punters displayed their solidarity with the striking workers and stayed away in their droves. While this was a powerful display of worker power and solidarity; this strike was entirely avoidable and has resulted in unnecessary damage to the company.

“As the largest union in Britain and Ireland, Unite provides strike pay to workers in industrial disputes; such is the support for the workers in this case that the difference between that strike pay and the workers regular wages over the past week will be fully made up by solidarity donations from Unite branches across Northern Ireland.

“In the absence of any improved wage offer, workers have been left with no alternative but to escalate their industrial action. We have informed management of further strike dates on a number of Saturdays including Grand National Day on Saturday, April 9.

“In addition, Unite’s community branches will be launching a campaign of solidarity protests highlighting the ‘scrooge-like’ behaviour of SP Graham management. SP Graham need to get serious about addressing the poverty pay they offer staff”, Mr McMurray said.