The roll-out of a Smart meter installation programme across London and southern and western England will be hit when EDF Energy staff stage two days of strike action this month in a dispute over pay cuts, job losses and working extended hours to install the meters.
Unite, the country’s largest union representing nearly 500 staff, said that if the proposals were allowed to go through some of its members would lose up to £6,000-a-year in income which was ‘totally unacceptable’.
Meter readers and fixers, office staff and managers will be striking for 24 hours from 00.01 on Wednesday 12 August and at the same time on Thursday 20 August.
They 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 strike will disrupt the training of staff to use and install the Smart meters, designed to give more accurate readings centrally, and cause inconvenience to consumers expecting a visit to install the new meters.
The union accused the company of backtracking on an agreement with Unite last year to protect current staff – that deal was thrashed out after three days of strike action.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The company has shown yet again that it is not to be trusted. We have an agreement protecting current staff, which the company interprets as a license to propose longer working hours, pay cuts and job losses.
“For example, company proposals could mean some of our members losing about £6,000-a-year. How can anybody interpret a pay loss of £6,000 as ‘protection’ for current staff? This is totally unacceptable.
“EDF Energy is failing to abide by last year’s agreement whereby current staff would not be adversely affected by the company’s programme to introduce Smart metering.
“The strikes will disrupt the introduction of the Smart meter programme that the company is so keen to continue to roll out.”
The dispute follows the employer’s failure to resolve 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 affected will be:
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.