[U]nite members at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant are holding a ballot for strike action over a ‘completely unacceptable’ 1.5 per cent pay offer that has been imposed by management.
Ballot papers for the union’s 2,000 craft and staff members at the Cumbria site will start dropping onto doormats from Wednesday 13 September. The ballot closes on Monday 2 October.
Sellafield Ltd – a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company – has imposed a 1.5 per cent pay award from this month, backdated to 1 April.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “With the RPI inflation rate running at 3.5 per cent and the CPI rate currently at 2.6 per cent – and projections by the end of 2017 of four per cent and three per cent plus respectively – our members can’t realistically accept a paltry 1.5 per cent pay rise.
“The imposed offer comes on the back of a 0.25 per cent increase last year.
“We calculate that if our members accepted this offer, taking into account last year’s minimal rise, our members would be £1,700 worse off in real terms, which is completely unacceptable, as inflation takes off.
“We see the invisible hand of government guiding the management to impose this harsh austerity pay policy.
“Our members are highly skilled and trained professionals who are working in an extremely hazardous, arduous and security-vetted environment.
“They are carrying out important work in the national interest and it is imperative that the wage rates are maintained at a commensurate level to reflect their contribution to Sellafield’s continued success.
“The management now needs to come to the table and negotiate in a constructive manner, otherwise future strike action could bring Sellafield to a halt.”
A spokesman for Sellafield said: “We believe that a no-strings attached 1.5% pay increase is fair and reasonable. We made that offer based on company affordability and have been consistent throughout discussions with Unite, Prospect and GMB, who represent different sections of our workforce. Prospect, which has collective bargaining rights for more than half of our workforce, has accepted the offer.
“Our focus, as always, will be to ensure the site remains safe and secure at all times, including during any action which may take place.”