Energy minister Jesse Norman should step up to the plate and meet the unions over the proposed £600 million ‘raid’ on the pensions of 16,000 nuclear industry workers – otherwise, industrial action could be on the cards.
The warning came from Unite, the country’s largest union, after a shop stewards’ meeting this morning (Monday 9 January) to discuss the proposed plans by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
Unite said that it believed that the NDA is a stalking horse for the government in an attempt to save money at the expense of workers’ retirement incomes, despite the fact that the pension scheme was not in deficit.
The joint union statement can be accessed via this link: http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/NDApensionsstatement11-29546.pdf
Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “The meeting today (Monday 9 January) reflected the high level of anger by the shop stewards from the respective unions.
“They are dismayed that the retirement incomes of 16,000 nuclear industry workers are under serious threat because of the financial machinations of the Treasury.
“This threat is made worse by the fact that the pension scheme is not in deficit – this is like rubbing salt into the wounds.
“We have further meetings with the NDA scheduled, but in the meantime, we are preparing our membership databases for a potential industrial action ballot for which there is a large groundswell of support.
“We were due to have a ministerial meeting on Wednesday (11 January) but that was abruptly called off. This demonstrates the continuing contempt of the government for the nuclear industry and its highly skilled workforce and calls into question whether ministers are serious about resolving this issue.
“The fact that the last meeting the unions had with ministers on pensions was 12 months ago speaks volumes. The silence is deafening.
“We are now calling for an urgent meeting with the recently appointed energy minister Jesse Norman to discuss what we consider an unnecessary Treasury-led ‘raid’ which could see our members’ pensions slashed by thousands of pounds.
“Unite will be coordinating its response with its fellow trade unions and is considering industrial action to protect our members’ retirement incomes, which they have spent years building up.
“It is blatantly clear that the NDA is the stalking horse for the government is which hell-bent in saving £660 million over the period of decommissioning. Our members have already made big sacrifices since the last pension changes were imposed in 2008 – and enough is enough.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. 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.