Two days of strike action by EDF Energy staff that would have affected the roll-out of a smart meter installation programme across London and southern and western England have been suspended for negotiations to take place.
Nearly 500 staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, were due to strike for 24 hours from 00.01 tomorrow (Wednesday 12 August) and at the same time on Thursday 20 August.
Meter readers and fixers, office staff and managers are in a dispute over pay cuts, job losses and working extended hours to install the meters. If the proposals were allowed to go through some staff would lose up to £6,000-a-year in income.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Following an offer of talks, we have agreed to suspend the action tomorrow and the strike due on 20 August. The employers are offering to hear our grievances via a two person panel – one will be from the trade union side and the other will represent management.
“We are going to meet the employer on Thursday (13 August) to agree terms of reference for the panel. Unite will be entering into these negotiations in a constructive and meaningful fashion.”
Unite members had voted by a margin of 85 per cent for strike action and 92 per cent were in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
The dispute centres on a list of issues including:
• Extended working hours to install smart meters, but withdrawing the London allowance which could mean a pay cut of up to £6,000
• No pay awards for staff on personal contracts, despite saying performance pay should be awarded if targets are met
• Job losses caused by managers applying for their own jobs and if rejected, facing potential unemployment.
The EDF Energy sites that would have been affected by strike action are:
- Broadway, Bexley Heath, Kent, DA6 8ET; Georgiana Street, London NW1 0QS; Three Bridges, Crawley RH10 1QQ; Speedwell, Bristol BS15 1NT; Osprey Road, Exeter EX2 7WN; Exeter Business Park, Exeter EX1 3UT; Outland Road, Plymouth PL3 5TU; Portland Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 5S; and Canning Town, London E16 4TL
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 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.