STAFF at Cleckheaton carpet manufacturer Westex Carpets held a day's strike on Wednesday in a dispute over pay.

Unite members took industrial action at two Westex Carpet sites in Cleckheaton and Dewsbury after the company tabled a pay offer of 2.2 per cent, which was subsequently rejected by the membership.

The union said Westex Carpets responded by taking the offer off the table and implementing a pay freeze until at least April 2020.

It said the company cited financial difficulties for the pay freeze, despite making pre-tax profits of £5.44m during 2018/19 and £5.164m in 2018/17.

The membership believes that Westex Carpets’ profits will continue at the current level and voted in favour of strike action that will last until the dispute is settled.

Unite regional officer Kelvin Mawer said: “After its initial penny-pinching pay offer was rejected, Westex Carpets dug themselves into a hole by pettily rescinding it and implementing an insulting pay freeze that was justified with a paper thin excuse about cash flow.

“This strike will severely impact Westex’s production capabilities and was entirely avoidable. Our members will not back down or be fobbed off with empty claims about financial constraints that are contradicted by Westex’s pre-tax profits of £5m a year.

“Unite urges Westex’s management to de-escalate this dispute by ending the pay freeze and returning to the negotiating table.”

The company said in a statement: "We are disappointed that Unite have decided to take strike action at Westex Carpets Limited.

"We are also somewhat surprised that Unite have issued a press release on the subject containing several statements which are simply factually incorrect.

"The strike only affects a minority of our employees and the vast majority of our employees will continue to operate as normal.

"We will also utilise contingency plans to ensure that we continue to provide our normal excellent service to our customers.

"We have agreed and implemented pay increases every year for over 20 years, with those increases averaging around 3% per annum. The result is that our employees are around the highest paid in our industry and we are proud that we have achieved that in an extremely challenging textiles market.

"We genuinely hope that this situation will be resolved in the near future."