Nuclear firefighters on strike over pay and conditions

Firefighters working at Sellafield nuclear power station are today on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

GMB senior organiser Chris Jukes said: “Management have broken their promises to the firefighters – and have failed to make a fair offer that would put an end to this dispute. GMB’s firefighters have remained professional throughout this process, which started in 2012 undertaking all the relevant training courses required, many done on their rest days.

“Sellafield Limited has spun a message of greed with 2,500 senior personnel on Sellafield earning eye-watering bonuses which are in every sense of the word an obscenity compared to what firefighters were promised.

“There is a well developed master and servant culture at Sellafield – senior management on top bonuses costing nearly £20 million per year. This contrasts with a steadfast refusal to recognise the efforts and skills of the workers expected to be in the thick of keeping the 10,000 workers on the site and the much wider community safe in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Feedback from GMB members is that they want to do the work necessary to make the Sellafield site safe if difficult things happen. We live in very uncertain times and the firefighters’ priority is to protect the community and the public at large. GMB members have been receptive to Sellafield management when they have been looking at work in what is known as warm zones areas – in other words, firefighters entering areas where a catastrophic incident might take place.

“However, despite the apparent progress and promises more two months ago, it appears senior management in Sellafield Limited have gone bent on their undertakings and returned to the incompetent communications and negotiating style that has become the way of some top brass at Sellafield in recent years.

“GMB members feel insulted that management have taken this approach and even more incensed when management have expressed ‘disappointment’ with the response from GMB negotiators to the latest offer. GMB members recognise, along with their families, that work on a Civil Nuclear Decommissioning Plant – with the accompanying risks from high levels of radioactive waste – means they should be appropriately rewarded.

“The company has sought to denigrate and bad mouth firefighters by inappropriate comparisons with workers outside the site.”

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