Pay strikes at power grid for London, South East, East England to cause blackout delays
- Tuesday 7 March 2023
Around 1,300 workers, responsible for repairing, maintaining and administrating the electricity grid for London and the South East and East of England, have voted to strike.
The workers are angry that UKPN have offered an 8.3 per cent pay rise for 2022, when they are normally offered an annual wage increase that meets or exceeds RPI inflation.
With RPI currently standing at 13.4 per cent, this is a substantial real terms pay cut. The offer is also conditional on the workers accepted a below RPI inflation pay deal for 2023, meaning their wages spending power would be reduced twice in two years. The deal is not worth around 18 per cent as the company is claiming.
Meanwhile, UKPN (owned by Hong Kong based conglomerate CK Group), had an average operating profit margin of over 50 per cent between 2017 and 2021 – almost five times higher than the FTSE-100 average.
During that period, the company made a massive £2.4 billion in profits, paid for by energy consumers through standing charges on their bills. Its latest financial report shows UKPN made £264 million up to March 2022, while it’s CEO, Basil Scarsella, was paid an annual salary of £2.3 million.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “UKPN’s profiteering, which has seen it continue to rake in astronomical profits as millions of families dread the arrival of their next energy bill, is a prime example of why Britain’s economy is broken. Our members at UKPN, like the rest of ordinary working families across the UK, are also struggling with rocketing energy bills.
“Despite its astronomical profits, the company has decided to offer its workers a real terms pay cut. Unite will fight attacks on our members pay, terms or conditions. UK Power Networks can afford to put forward an acceptable offer and this is what needs to happen.”
Details of strike action will be made known in the coming days.
During the strikes, maintenance and repair of the electricity grid will be disrupted, including restoring power after any blackouts.
Unite regional officer Jane Jeffery said: “Any disruption caused by these strikes is entirely the fault of UKPN’s avarice. The company needs to return to the negotiating table and put forward an offer our members can accept. It can clearly afford to but is refusing to do so out of greed.”
Notes to editors
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.