Thousands of nuclear workers in ballot over strike
Up to 5,000 workers at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbria are being balloted over strike action in support of higher pay.
The union for nuclear workers, GMB, has organised the vote for its 3,000 members at the facility after it said the company ignored repeated requests for further talks and is set to impose a below-inflation pay offer of 1.5%.
The strike ballot begins today (Monday, August 14) and will close on Monday, September 4 2017.
The Unite union is also balloting its 2,000 members at Sellafield.
Sellafield Ltd offered 1.5% in June which was rejected by 88% of GMB members on site during a consultative ballot. The RPI inflation rate is currently 3.5%.
Since then, GMB has sought further talks with the company without success.
Last year, in order to stop Sellafield management from cutting the pay of apprentices, Sellafield workers accepted just 0.25% extra pay against annual RPI inflation for 2016 of 1.8%.
As part of Government-led changes to the pensions of nuclear workers, two thirds of Sellafield workers will also have to pay an extra 2 to 6% on their pensions contributions from next year, GMB said.
Chris Jukes, GMB senior organiser, said: “Pay at Sellafield for all but the top brass has failed to keep pace with inflation in recent years and it came as no surprise to GMB when our members voted by a ratio of nine to one to reject Sellafield Ltd’s pay offer, which is less than half the RPI inflation rate.
“At the same time, Sellafield management have chipped away relentlessly at terms and conditions.
“Sellafield management say they want fair pay and good industrial relations, then impose a below inflation pay offer, ignore repeated requests to meet and act like a nodding dog for the NDA [Nuclear Decommissioning Agency].
“In the circumstances, we now have no alternative but to ask our members if they are willing to take strike action in order to achieve a pay offer in line with inflation.
“The work carried out by GMB members at Sellafield is vital to the safe and efficient functioning of the UK’s nuclear sector, including the generation of electricity for homes and industry.
“Since the days of the cold war, the deal for these isolated local communities has been that in exchange for the risks associated with nuclear waste reprocessing – which most people don’t want on their doorsteps – nuclear communities had stable job opportunities, on decent terms and conditions and with secure pensions when production ceased.
“Gnawing away continually at this social contract has consequences.
“Sellafield workers received just 0.25% extra in their pay packets last year and this year’s offer would see them take another real terms pay cut.
“Our hardworking Sellafield members are also already looking at an increase of between 2% to 6% in their pension contributions, so accepting this measly pay offer would mean a double-hit on their quality of life.”
TheBusinessDesk has contacted the Sellafield management for comment.