Unite, the UK’s largest union, has begun balloting workers employed by civil engineering company DSD Construction, at Sellafield, for strike action, after the company sacked the union’s shop steward.
DSD Construction, based in Carlisle, is currently undertaking work to enhance security at the nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield. The work includes improving fencing at the complex.
The dispute has arisen after Unite’s newly elected shop steward James Bainbridge was sacked by DSD, just 26 days after being elected to the position.
Within 24 hours of his election Mr Bainbridge was already being subjected to victimisation by the company, as he was told to relocate to the Carlisle depot which is 40 miles away from the rest of the workforce.
When Mr Bainbridge was reinstated to the Sellafield site, he held a meeting with the workforce and submitted a written grievance on their behalf to DSD management.
The grievance concerned: working in the rain, weekend working being made available to all workers, more uniforms to be provided and not having to wear the same clothes all week and inadequate and substandard personal protective equipment.
Mr Bainbridge was again relocated and meetings seeking to resolve the situation were continually cancelled at short notice and without good reason. Mr Bainbridge was then sacked at a meeting on 22 November, without the company adhering to any form of disciplinary procedure.
Ballot papers will be sent out on Thursday 21 December and the ballot will close on Monday 8 January 2018.
If strike action goes ahead workers employed on other parts of the Sellafield complex could be reluctant to cross picket lines.
Unite regional officer Ryan Armstrong said: “Unite’s members are furious with the way that their shop steward has been treated, for simply trying to undertake his normal trade union duties.
“Our members at DSD have genuine concerns about pay and safety issues. Rather than address these issues, the company’s management has instead decided to victimise then sack the union’s steward.
If strike action goes ahead it is likely to cause widespread disruption to the entire Sellafield complex.
“This dispute is of DSD’s making and the solution is in its hands. DSD needs to immediately reinstate our shop steward and to deal with the genuine concerns of the workforce.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: firstname.lastname@example.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.