SELLAFIELD workers are to ballot on strike action after years of below-inflation pay increases and attacks on working conditions.
Unions Unite and GMB announced yesterday that they will start balloting their 5,000 members at Britain’s nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria this month.
Management recently imposed a 1.5 per cent pay increase which the workers have deemed “completely unacceptable.”
Last year a 1 per cent pay rise was reduced to a quarter of 1 per cent to maintain apprentice training.
Sellafield Ltd, a company owned by the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, employs 5,000 workers who deal with radioactive waste material from 15 nuclear reactors at Britain’s seven nuclear power stations.
Unite argued that a management “benchmarking” exercise on pay compared the skilled nuclear decommissioning workers to those employed in fast-food outlets and charity shops.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “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.
“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.”
And GMB senior organiser Chris Jukes said: “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.”