Union hits out over Sellafield workplace meetings ‘ban’
The dispute at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria has escalated amid claims workplace meetings to discuss a 1.5% have been banned by bosses.
The union Unite, which is preparing to ballot its 2,000 members for industrial over the offer which it says is “completely unacceptable”, has hit out at the management move.
However, a statement from Sellafield Ltd this morning (Friday, August 18) said: “Unite requested a series of meetings on different days, apparently to canvass the views of their members regarding balloting for industrial action.
“Although they’ve not communicated with us directly on the subject, Unite has already publicly announced their intention to ballot for industrial action.
“As such, we feel it is in nobody’s interests to disrupt important work on site when their decision has already been made.”
Unite also disputed the claim by Sellafield – a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company – that it was imposing the pay offer next month as “the majority” of the nearly 11,000 workforce were in favour .
Unite said that its own calculation of the figures of the three unions balloted – Prospect and the GMB are the other two – known acceptances of the offer came in at just 18%.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “What is happening here is that the management crackdown includes banning legitimate workplace meetings to discuss the below inflation pay offer and playing fast-and-loose with the three unions’ ballot figures.
“The management is slavishly kowtowing to the pay diktats of the government which puts austerity economics at the top of the agenda, which is especially insulting given that we have a highly skilled workforce employed in a safety critical industry.
“The 1.5% offer is completely unacceptable, given that the RPI inflation rate is running at 3.6 per cent, and the workers at Sellafield have had a succession of low pay awards recently.
“Unite was organising a number of mass meetings in the coming weeks so we could properly and rightfully engage with our members to explain the situation.
“Unfortunately, we have been told that the company has refused to grant both facilities and facility time for us to hold the meetings.
“This is unprecedented. Sellafield management’s attempt to stifle free and open dialogue is truly disappointing, but hardly surprising in the present austerity-driven climate.
“As a result, we are currently arranging a number of meetings off the Sellafield site in the local community. We will share these times, dates and venues in the coming days and urge our members to attend one of these important the off-site gatherings.”