Sellafield workers to ballot for pay strike after bosses turn down talks

SellafieldFive thousands workers at the nuclear plant at Sellafield are to be balloted for industrial action after bosses ignored repeated requests for further talks and said instead it would impose a below-inflation pay offer.

The ballot of 3,000 GMB members and 2,000 Unite members begins on Monday and closes on September 4. A 1.5% pay offer was rejected in June but company bosses have since refused to meet for talks.

GMB senior organiser Chris Jukes said: “GMB members at Sellafield Ltd understandably voted by 9 to 1 to reject the company’s pay offer which was less than half the RPI inflation rate.

“GMB’s repeated requests for further talks have been ignored and the company has instead said it will impose its below inflation pay rise.

“With Sellafield refusing to meet us, GMB has little alternative than to ask our members if they wish to take strike action to achieve a fair pay offer.

“Last year, Sellafield workers received just 0.25% extra in their pay packets, this year’s offer of 1.5% is way below inflation again and would mean that yet another real terms pay cut for our hardworking Sellafield members after inflation has been taken into account.

“Members are also already looking at an increase of between 2 to 6% in their pension contributions, so this would be a double-hit on their living standards.”

Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “Last year’s pay award was one percent, but members agreed to take only 0.25 per cent in order to keep existing apprentices on an agreed rate.

“Low pay awards have been the order of the day for some time at Sellafield with the well-founded suspicion that this award dovetails with the government’s harsh pay restraint policies.

“Once cherished free collective bargaining is now a myth in the decommissioning industry – and this paltry pay offer is completely unacceptable.

“There has been a sustained erosion of pay, and terms and conditions in recent years including a proposed new pensions’ package with reduced benefits and new starters employed on inferior conditions.
The current regrading exercise would reduce craft pay by a minimum of £5,000 a year.

“When the ‘benchmarking’ exercise started, the management compared very skilled workers dealing with the maintenance of the nuclear plant with those employed in ‘fried chicken’ outlets and charity shop workers.

“These ridiculous comparisons have now been dropped, but it demonstrated the contemptuous way that the bosses regard its highly trained and safety conscious workforce.

“The management now needs to come to the table and negotiate in a constructive manner, otherwise possible future industrial action could bring Sellafield to a halt.”

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