Hardline bosses at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant are turning the screw on the workforce, as they have banned workplace meetings to discuss the current pay dispute, Unite, the country’s largest union, said.
The union, which is preparing to ballot its 2,000 members for industrial action over a ‘completely unacceptable’ 1.5 per cent pay offer, said that the management’s action showed that it was ‘slavishly kowtowing’ to the government’s harsh polices on pay restraint.
Unite also disputed the claim by Sellafield Ltd - a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company – that it was imposing the pay offer next month as ‘the majority’ of the nearly 11,000 workforce were in favour .
Unite said that its own calculation of the figures of the three unions balloted – Prospect and the GMB are the other two – known acceptances of the offer came in at just 18 per cent.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “What is happening here is that the management crackdown includes banning legitimate workplace meetings to discuss the below inflation pay offer and playing fast-and-loose with the three unions’ ballot figures.
“The management is slavishly kowtowing to the pay diktats of the government which puts austerity economics at the top of the agenda, which is especially insulting given that we have a highly skilled workforce employed in a safety critical industry.
“The 1.5 cent offer is completely unacceptable, given that the RPI inflation rate is running at 3.6 per cent, and the workers at Sellafield have had a succession of low pay awards recently.
“Unite was organising a number of mass meetings in the coming weeks so we could properly and rightfully engage with our members to explain the situation.
“Unfortunately, we have been told that the company has refused to grant both facilities and facility time for us to hold the meetings.
“This is unprecedented. Sellafield management’s attempt to stifle free and open dialogue is truly disappointing, but hardly surprising in the present austerity-driven climate.
“As a result, we are currently arranging a number of meetings off the Sellafield site in the local community. We will share these times, dates and venues in the coming days and urge our members to attend one of these important the off-site gatherings.”
Unite is currently preparing for an industrial action ballot on the pay offer and members should be receiving their ballot papers in the next few weeks.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
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.