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Energy staff ‘collecting Smart meters from supermarket...

Energy staff ‘collecting Smart meters from supermarkets’ sparks week-long strike

13 October 2015

EDF Energy workers carrying out Smart meter installations are set to strike for a week in a dispute that could see them collecting their Smart meters from supermarkets and petrol stations.

About 70 staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, are due to strike  from 00.01 Monday (19 October) until 23.59 on Friday (23 October).

While the strike of the meter installers, fitters and repairers will hit the EDF headquarters at Bexleyhealth, Kent and Canning Town, east London, the reasons for the dispute affect nearly 500 staff across London and southern and western England.

Meter readers and fixers, office staff and managers are all 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.

Highly profitable EDF Energy also wants to close the Bangor Wharf depot in east London, as a prelude to closing all depots with the aim, says the union, of meter staff collecting  their equipment from special lockers at supermarkets and petrol stations.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Collecting meters from supermarkets and petrol stations is not a smart move. It will destroy the team working ethos where colleagues come into a depot to share problems and learn from each other. It will be the end of co-working.

“There are a raft of other reasons for this dispute, including that if the proposals go-ahead some staff could lose up to £6,000-a-year.

“There has already been one day of strike action in August and further action was suspended for talks to take place with the management – these negotiations have proved fruitless and that’s why our members are staging targeted strike action next week.

“The management has been intransigent and we urge them to get around the table under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, otherwise more widespread industrial action will definitely be on the cards this autumn which will hit customer service and delivery very badly.”
 
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 are affected by the company’s proposals 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.

ENDS

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.