Power station workers announce fresh strike action amid pay dispute

Around 500 members will walk out on Wednesday with a new date scheduled for June 19.

Hundreds of workers at a nuclear power station in the Highlands are striking on Wednesday after rejecting a revised pay offer.

Over 500 Unite members employed by Nuclear Restoration Services Limited (NRS) at Dounreay power station are taking part in the 24-hour strike action.

A second day of strike action is scheduled for June 19.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “NRS has the ability to make its workers a fair pay offer and the fact that it refuses to do so while risking shutdowns at Dounreay speaks volumes.

“Unite’s growing membership at the power station remain resolute and the company’s intransigence will only fuel their determination. Unite fully back our members at Dounreay power station in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Unite confirmed that an overtime ban and an end to working voluntary appointments will continue from June 1-18, and thereafter from June 20-30.

Voluntary appointments are essential to ensuring the site meets the delivery targets in the lifetime plan.

Unite members have suspended these appointments as part of the ongoing industrial action.

An overtime ban will lead to maintenance work which usually occurs at the weekend having to be undertaken during the working week. This could lead to the site having to be closed down.

Unite said since the initial day of strike action, NRS has not returned to the negotiating table.

Unite’s NRS membership includes craft technicians, general operators, chemical and electrical engineers, and maintenance fitters and safety advisors.

The union’s membership overwhelmingly rejected a revised pay offer which proposed a one-off £500 payment on top of a basic 4.5% increase.

Unite maintains the offer amounts to a substantial pay cut as the true rate of inflation, RPI, stood at 13.5% as measured in March 2023, when the pay increase was due.

Unite’s NRS membership includes craft technicians, general operators, engineers, maintenance fitters and safety advisors. The membership previously backed strike action by 85.5% on a high turnout of 82.3%.

Marc Jackson, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite is extremely disappointed that the senior management team at NRS have not even made contact to resolve this pay dispute.

“We have warned NRS that unless a revised pay offer is put on the table which our members can consider, then we are heading for prolonged industrial action.

“The extra days of industrial action will have a substantial impact on the ability of NRS to undertake essential maintenance and safety work. It will also lead to Dounreay potentially being closed at points because the company simply won’t have the people to do the jobs.”

Lesley-Anne MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said the union’s members will strike at Dounreay tomorrow as the pay dispute continues.

She voiced concern at the lack of engagement or urgency by managers at the nuclear complex and warned the appointment of a new but interim managing director has added to the already unacceptable delays.

She said: “This dispute has unfolded in slow motion over more than a year and could have been averted if managers had seriously engaged with the negotiations.

“Instead, they put their heads in the sand as our members’ frustration grew.

“These talks have been in limbo far too long and the new managing director must show an urgency and engagement that has been absolutely lacking so far.”

MacAskill said ongoing industrial action short of strike, including overtime bans and work to rule, has had a serious impact on the effective running of the complex and demands action.

She said: “This is a nuclear site which, managers are only now realising, runs on the goodwill of our members and their willingness to voluntarily take on additional responsibilities.

“Our members deserve a fair pay offer and Dounreay must be properly-staffed, supervised and managed. Right now, neither is happening.”

The remuneration package of the highest paid NRS (formerly Magnox) director went up from £331,000 to £651,000 at March 2023, and the company paid dividends of £2.1m in the same period.

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