Last ditch talks are being held between EDF Energy and Unite, the country’s largest union, on Thursday (12 June) to avert further strikes in the three-pronged pay dispute.
Nearly 500 workers in the London, South Eastern, South West and Eastern regions will be striking for 24 hours from 00.01 on Monday 16 June which will mean delays in fixing and installing meters for customers.
Revenue protection will also be hit – as the workers going on strike include those dealing with business owners and private customers who are allegedly fiddling and stealing electricity.
EDF Energy and Unite are due to meet for talks under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas. The union says the crux of the dispute is the company’s failure to abide by an agreement made in 2012.
The dispute has already seen two days of strike action at the beginning of May.
Monday’s strike will be followed by selective industrial action and a work-to-rule which starts immediately afterwards. There will be strike action from 17 June to 27 June involving around 12 meter readers working from the Camden depot in central London.
The members taking this action work on an appointment basis and if they do not carry out work on time, EDF will be liable to fines. The action will be escalated on 23 June, when they will be joined by 20 more meter readers from Bexleyheath in a week of strike action, with further escalation on the cards.
From 17 June, Unite is instructing members to take action short of strike action on a continuous basis. The union predicts that this work-to-rule will have ‘a very significant impact’.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “EDF Energy has a further opportunity to reach an agreement with Unite in last ditch talks on Thursday and avoid major industrial disruption.
“The facts are clear – this company made an agreement with the trade union in 2012 that it has failed to abide by.
“Our case is that the company admits this to be the case and that it didn't do the necessary sums. More seriously, it admits that it only signed the deal to avoid a dispute last time around and had no intention of honouring it.
“Two weeks ago, in negotiations, the company offered the princely sum of an extra £20 a year (before tax) to solve this dispute – this is just insulting to our hardworking members from a highly profitable company.
“We urge the EDF management to take a more mature attitude and negotiate in a constructive fashion at the Acas talks.
“Workers are taking action because EDF is refusing to honour an agreement it freely signed and to make matters even worse the company is offering a pay deal for 2013 which does not even keep up with the ever rising cost of living.”
A total of 486 employees were balloted in the London, South Eastern, South West and Eastern regions, and voted by the large margin of 77 percent to take strike action and by 88 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
The dispute has three elements:
• 2013 pay offer of two per cent and a non-consolidated, one off payment of £200 for the year April 2013 to April 2014
• South Eastern pay. This was due to be resolved in the 2012 agreement. The employers agreed to look at the pay difference between this group and London colleagues – but have not done so
• Eastern revenue protection team. Having signed the 2012 agreement, EDF then said that it could not afford to pay it to this group of workers.
The EDF centres that will be affected by the industrial action are at: Heath House, 255 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent, BA6 8ET; Bangor Wharf, Georgiana Street, London, NW1 0QS; Atlantic House, Henson Road, Three Bridges, Crawley, RH10 1QQ; Unit 7, Anglo Office Park, Clarence Road, Speedwell, Bristol, BS15 1NT; Osprey House, Osprey Road, Exeter, EX2 7WN; Gadeon House, Grenadier Road, Exeter Business Park, Exeter, EX1 3UT; and 334 Outland Road, Plymouth, PL3 5TU.
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818 637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey