EDF’s plans to buy Rugby’s historic turbine factory could result in the French energy giant inheriting industrial unrest unless pay strikes against the current owner GE Steam Power are resolved, Unite has warned.

The first strike in 45 years will continue at the 120-year-old factory tomorrow (Friday 4 March) and Monday (7 March) at Newbold Road, Rugby, CV21 2NH. 

The dispute is over GE Steam Power’s refusal to negotiate over flexible working payments and the expectation that workers will take on new roles without extra pay.  

More than 75 Unite members, comprising nearly the entirety of the factory’s workforce, are taking a further eight days of strike action between 18 March and 2 May. 

Since GE Steam Power’s acquisition of the Rugby site 11 years ago, the relationship between the workers and management has been become increasingly strained over pay, redundancies, attacks on pensions and cuts to death in service benefits.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are taking action because, after 11 years of attacks on their pay and conditions, they’ve had enough. Unless GE Steam Power Rugby sorts this out fast, EDF will be inheriting industrial unrest across the entire shopfloor of the factory.

“Our members will not back down and they have the complete support of their union to keep going as long as it takes to achieve what are perfectly reasonable pay demands. GE Steam Power needs to up its game and resolve our members’ issues to their satisfaction and settle this dispute.”

The Rugby site, which was founded in 1897, manufactures industrial plant steam turbine equipment, including for use on the UK’s nuclear submarines. 

As well as halting production, the strikes will also disrupt the site’s repair and refurbishment service for steam rotating equipment.

Unite regional officer Zoe Mayou said: “GE Steam Power’s management has gone out of its way over the last decade to sour its relationship with the Rugby workforce. Their rude and arrogant attitude to our members’ request for fair pay has resulted in the first strike in 45 years. These strikes will continue until GE Steam Power tables a proposal that our members can accept.”  


Notes to editors: 

Rugby pay strikes begin at GE Steam Power’s historic factory

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

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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 Sharon Graham.