Unite members at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant are set to hold an industrial action ballot over a ‘completely unacceptable’ 1.5 per cent pay offer that has been imposed by management.
Unite Sellafield shop stewards at a meeting on Friday (August 4) decided to go ahead with the ballot of the union’s 2,000 members at the Cumbria site. Members can expect ballot papers to drop onto their doormats later this month.
Sellafield Ltd – a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company – has imposed a 1.5 per cent pay award from next month, backdated to April 1.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said today (August 8), “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,” he added.
“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,” Williams argued.
“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.”