EDF Energy workers carrying out Smart meter installations have suspended their week-long strike, due to have started today (Monday 19 October), after the company made ‘a major concession’, Unite, the country’s largest union, said.
About 70 staff at EDF headquarters at Bexleyhealth, Kent and Canning Town, east London were due to strike from 00.01 today (Monday 19 October) until 23.59 on Friday (23 October).
The strike has now been suspended for talks to take place between EDF management and Unite on Thursday (22 October), under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas.
The dispute is multi-layered, including a proposal that could see them collecting their smart meters from supermarkets and petrol stations, and could affect nearly 500 staff across London, and southern and western England.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “EDF made an offer on Friday night on the basis that we agreed to suspend the strike action which was due to start today.
“While there is a list of grievances, the most important one for our members is working hours. The company wanted later working and increased Saturday working.
“The agreement we now have is that current working patterns for existing staff will remain as they are until July 2017 at which point there will be a review.
“In the meantime, the employer will rely on new staff and volunteers for the later working and weekends. We have agreed that we will meet on Thursday to discuss the other elements of the dispute. It is a major concession secured by our members taking a united stand.
“We will be entering the talks in a constructive frame of mind and hope that the management will respond in a similar fashion, so that this dispute can be settled fairly and equitably.”
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. Other elements in the dispute are pay cuts and job losses.
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 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.
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.