Crane workers will be protesting outside Sunderland’s Stadium of Light tonight (Tuesday 4 September) in their pay dispute, as bosses try to undermine strike action by buying pizzas and burgers for those workers prepared to cross the picket line.

The workforce at the Liebherr Sunderland Works will be ‘shining a light’ in the dispute over an ‘inadequate’ pay offer as Sunderland plays the Stoke City under-21's in the Football League Trophy tonight – kick off 19.45. The protest will be repeated at Saturday’s (8 September) game against Fleetwood.

Unite, the country’s largest union which represents 30 skilled crane assemblers who have been taking days of strike action since early August, said that managers are greeting strike breakers with handshakes - and free burgers and pizzas.

Unite regional officer Mark Sanderson said: “The company has refused to enter into meaningful talks, instead a bevy of bosses have been at the gate on strike days to greet and shake the hands of those crossing the picket line.

“The same managers are taking photos and videos of the pickets in an attempt to intimidate the strikers.

“The managers also buy the strike breakers burgers or pizzas in a bid to undermine legitimate strike action – this is both pathetic and patronising, and no way to address employment relations in the modern age.

“Our members are very determined to continue the industrial action with 11 more days of strike action planned into October – the next strike day covers 6/7 September.

“The Sunderland crane operation is part of the global Liebherr Group which recently boasted the highest turnover in the group’s history – a total of almost €10 billion, so the company can well afford to make a fair offer to our members.

“Our members will be ‘shining a light’ on the Liebherr pay dispute at the Sunderland home game tonight and Saturday by staging a protest with the banner and leaflets.” 

Unite is coordinating the industrial action with the GMB union which also has members at the Deptford Terrace site.

On its website, the global Liebherr Group boasts the highest turnover in the group’s history which stretches back to 1949 – a total of €9,845 million (almost €10 billion).


Notes to editors:

The company’s original offer was three per cent, a £150 lump sum and an extra day off over the Christmas period for the year starting January 2018. The most recent offer is 3.2 per cent with Monday (24 December 2018) off with pay as an additional holiday – or, alternatively, 3.3 per cent.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065 Email: