Bosses at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant have ‘gone cold’ on the possibility of a pay deal as a one day strike by more than 1,100 craft workers on Tuesday (7 November) is set to go-ahead.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents maintenance staff and electricians, said that the management had now ‘gone cold’ on talks after a round of ‘positive talks’ – and the union blamed ‘the unseen hand’ of government ministers for the intransigence.
The 24 hour strike is due start at 06.00 on Tuesday over the ‘completely unacceptable’ 1.5 per cent pay offer imposed by Sellafield Ltd - a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) company - in September, backdated to 1 April.
Unite said that it would be maintaining a skeleton staff during the strike to reassure the people of Cumbria on health and safety issues.
Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “The Sellafield bosses appear to have adopted a new hardline attitude on the pay talks which we believe is being orchestrated by the unseen hands of government ministers who are pulling the strings behind the scenes.
“We had talks with management on 23 October which were very positive, but a week later the atmosphere had dramatically changed – it was as if the shutters had come down.
“Our members are highly trained and not prepared to accept such a derisory offer as the consumer prices index (CPI) inflation rose to 3.0 per cent in September. Inflation is eroding our members’ take-home pay.
“This has to be seen in the context that the Sellafield workforce has delivered over £230 million of savings in the last two years and is expected to make a further £300 million in savings this year.
“The strike will mean that no on-going maintenance work by our members will take place at Sellafield, but to reassure the Cumbrian public we will be maintaining a skeleton staff on site.
“Tuesday’s strike is a shot across the bows and more strikes are on the cards in the run-up to Christmas, if the management does not engage in constructive talks.”
The strike follows a ballot of its craft members which saw 90 per cent vote for strikes.
Notes to editors:
GMB members at Sellafield have already voted for and taken action.
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.