Strike action by EDF Energy smart meter installers in London is set to escalate in the row over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles, and also random drug and alcohol testing.
Unite, representing 60 meter installers and fixers in the capital, has announced seven days of strike action, starting on February 19, which will seriously hamper the installation of EDF’s smart meter programme.
The dispute, which has already resulted in one 24-hour strike on January 29, has prompted accusations of hypocrisy by the bosses over the introduction of a vehicle tracker system for workers installing smart meters, but ruling them out in their own company cars.
The 24 hour strikes, starting at just after midnight, will be held on February 19, 22 and 27 , and March 1, followed by a 72-hour strike commencing on March 6.
“London-based field operatives at EDF are taking strike action to fight off the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles, as well as random drug and alcohol testing,” said Unite regional officer Onay Kasab.
“The bosses are displaying breath-taking hypocrisy. While they call for the tracker devices to be installed in vehicles, supposedly for safety, they refuse to have them installed in their own vehicles.
“In addition to tracking movements, the device will measure driving performance and lead to workers facing disciplinary action for such everyday motoring procedures as breaking, swerving and changing speed,” he added.
“Unite has seen this type of culture develop at companies, such as the courier operator UPS, where the most common disciplinary hearings are for allegations based on driving and where drivers are punished when members of the public drive badly causing our members to take evasive action.
“Again, random drug and alcohol testing is only to be applied to field operatives – this is clearly unfair. Does this mean that managers are allowed to turn up for work under the pernicious influence of alcohol?
“EDF Energy tells staff based in offices not to walk around with coffee cups without a lid and signs are up on the walls demanding that people hold handrails as they walk downstairs, yet random drug and alcohol testing is not applied.
“If the company is that safety conscious, surely such testing must apply across the board, otherwise it can be legitimately accused of hypocrisy.
“This industrial action is about acting now to prevent measures that will lead to increased disciplinary action against workers.
“Unite will continue to escalate the campaign until we win fairness, decency and respect for our members. We urge the management to sit down to negotiate in a constructive manner.”
Unite members had voted by an overwhelming 92 per cent for strike action over excessive monitoring, including the imposition of random drug and alcohol testing and tracking devices.