Workers at AWE plc – the Atomic Weapons Establishment – have accepted ‘the best possible deal available’ to resolve the long-running pensions dispute.
Unite said its 800 members had accepted a four per cent pay deal for each of the next three years and enhanced allowances, in return for dropping its campaign for reinstatement to the Ministry of Defence pension scheme.
The new deal, which is backdated to June 1 this year and covers the years 2017-2019, also includes uplifts to the high hazard allowances and overtime rates for all staff.
“Basically, our members have voted to accept a substantial pay increase now, rather than continuing the pensions’ dispute indefinitely which would not have been in the interests of all the parties involved,” Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said. “Given all the circumstances, this is the best possible deal available.
“There are some generous uplifts in pay, for example, the firefighters’ package will jump from £31,000 to £48,000 a year.
“This result would not have been possible without the tremendous solidarity our members have shown since the first strike action last November. It shows that if you stick together, you do get a decent deal in the end.
“Our shop stewards have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from the union and the public,” he added. “They believe that the membership have come out of the dispute stronger and more united than when it started.
“Our members have suspended their industrial action and are working normally – and wish to have a constructive relationship with the management going forward.”
The AWE workforce produces the warheads for Trident.
The dispute centred on copper-bottomed pledges made in the early 1990s by the then-Tory government to AWE workers regarding the future of their pensions, once they transferred to the private sector.
These promises were broken as AWE bosses closed the defined benefit pension scheme on January 31 this year, leaving employees facing thousands of pounds being slashed from their retirement incomes.