Workers at the Drax power station in north Yorkshire were starting to vote this week in a ballot for strike action over 230 proposed redundancies, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 14 August).

Unite said that when the pay deal was hammered out last year, it was agreed verbally that there would be no compulsory redundancies amongst the 600-strong workforce. The union said that the company has now backtracked on that verbal undertaking.

Unite said that if the workers voted for strike action it would be the first time that such action had taken place at the highly profitable plant, owned by the Drax Group Ltd. The ballot closes on Tuesday 25 August.

The dispute centres on the six-unit site at Selby where the company is planning to close two coal-fired units next April. The other four units are bio mass, using wood chip pellets. The coal powered units are being replaced by gas generation ones.

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “The management has continually failed to live up to the terms of last year’s pay agreement when they stated verbally that there would be no compulsory redundancies amongst the workforce.

“Our members, who worked flat-out through the pandemic, have even offered to take a pay and bonus freeze to improve redundancy terms and maintain jobs, but that was rejected by the bosses. 

“Unite’s reps have asked management repeatedly for other options rather than compulsory redundancy to be considered, but these requests have all fallen on deaf ears.

“This must be seen against a background of a soaring share price based on the future development at Drax and huge profits of £415 million generated in the last financial year by the Selby site alone.

“However if the company adopted a scheme of natural wastage as workers left or retired, this would cost just £25 million a year for a limited period until the workforce is reduced.

“There is a still a generous window of opportunity before the strike ballot closes for the management to sit down with Unite for constructive negotiations to avoid industrial action. Unite’s door is open for such talks 24/7.”


Notes to editors:

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.