Drax Hydro workers vote to strike in pay dispute threatening power cuts
- Thursday 23 February 2023
Drax parent group profits up 50% as Unite accuses energy company of corporate greed
Unite the union confirmed today (23 February) that energy workers employed by Drax Hydro Limited who operate power stations across Scotland have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.
Around 50 Unite members covering Stonebyres (Lanark), Cruachan (Loch Awe) and Glenlee (Castle Douglas) power stations voted yes to strike action by 84.6 per cent on an 86.7 per cent turnout.
The workers also voted by 92.3 per cent to take action short of a strike which would involve an overtime ban.
The workers including engineers, plant controllers, as well as mechanical and electrical craft workers. The strike action days are expected to take place from mid-March with Unite making an official announcement next week.
The vote for strike action, and action short of a strike, follows the rejection of an offer (8 per cent) which is significantly below the current rate of inflation at 13.4 per cent (RPI).
Drax Hydro posted its latest accounts in July 2022 on Companies House indicating the company made profits totalling £2.3m for 2021.
The trade union predicts the strike action in Scotland in conjunction with a separate pay dispute involving Unite members at the Drax power station in Yorkshire could lead to the UK facing power cuts. Unite has announced nine days of strike action at the Yorkshire plant from late February into April.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Drax Hydro is a profitable energy company and it can afford to pay its workforce significantly more than the current offer. It is also part of a wider Drax Group with underlying earnings for last year projected to be around a staggering £680m. This is a classic case of corporate greed and now the UK faces a threat of power cuts due to Drax’s greed.
“Unite is completely focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of our members, and the workers at Drax Hydro will be receiving the union’s total support.”
The Drax Group generates 11 per cent of the UK's renewable energy and a fifth during peak periods. It is estimated to have generated profits in excess of £680 million for 2022, an increase of well over 50 per cent on the previous year.
Elaine Dougall, Unite regional co-ordinating officer said: "The pay offer on the table by Drax Hydro is unacceptable. The company is profitable and the workforce has made reasonable demands which Drax can well afford to pay.
“Unite will not tolerate real terms pay cuts and our members are determined to get what they deserve. It should not have needed to come to this point as the parent group is awash with hundreds of millions in profit.
“Strike action is now on the cards in a couple of weeks’ time and the blame for any threats to energy supply lies completely with the company.”
The Cruachan Power Station is one of only four pumped storage hydro stations with a capacity of 440 MW - enough to power more than 90,000 homes.
Notes to Editors
The energy regulator Ofgem announced that following an investigation Drax Pumped Storage Limited - a subsidiary of the parent group - paid a fine of £6.12 million for breaching the Generation Licence by submitting excessively expensive bids to turn down its generation in the balancing mechanism.
As a result of Ofgem’s compliance work, the company admitted to having breached its Generation Licence, specifically the Transmission Constraint Licence Condition (TCLC). The TCLC prohibits generators from being paid, or seeking to be paid, an excessive amount during times of transmission system constraint.
Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.