A week-long strike by EDF Energy workers carrying out Smart meter installations will take place next week, after Acas talks failed to make a break through due to ‘pig headed’ bosses.
Unite, the country’s largest union, suspended a week’s strike in November for talks with the management to take place under the auspices of Acas, the conciliation service.
However, the union said that the talks had broken down and now about 70 staff at EDF headquarters at Bexleyhealth, Kent and Canning Town, east London are due to strike from 00.01 on Monday 11 January until 23.59 on Friday 15 January.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite went into the Acas talks before Christmas in good faith, but they have been sabotaged by a pig headed management.
“The main sticking point is the requirement to work regular evenings and weekends as part of the installation of the Smart meter programme. We had an agreement that current staff would not have their working hours altered – the employer has now reneged on this.
“EDF has also added new items – most controversially ‘telematics’ which is a system for recording every movement of an employee’s working day. Our objection is that this will be used as a device for bullying.
“At the same time as this new performance policy, the employer has said that it expects the union to co-operate with getting rid of staff via this new system.
“What led to the breakdown at Acas was the management adding controversial new issues coupled with a threat to tear up agreements it did not like.
“This macho style of management and negotiation has led to next week’s strike.”
The proposals could affect the working conditions of nearly 500 staff across London, and southern and western England.
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 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.