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  1. ITV Report

Sellafield workers vote to strike in dispute over pay

A total of 76% of ballot papers supported strike action. Photo: PA

Members of GMB, the union for nuclear workers, working at Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Following a three week ballot, a total of 76% of ballot papers are in support of strike action.

This came after the company ignored requests for further talks and said it would put in place a below-inflation pay offer.

Sellafield offered a 1.5% pay offer in June which was rejected by 88% of GMB members on site during a consultative ballot.

The RPI inflation rate is currently 3.6%.

The Unite union is also balloting its 2,000 members at Sellafield.

Last year Sellafield workers accepted just 0.25% extra pay against annual RPI inflation for 2016 of 1.8%.

It was accepted to stop Sellafield management from cutting the pay of apprentices.

Two thirds of Sellafield workers will also have to pay an extra 2 to 6% on their pensions contributions from next year.

This is part of government led changes to the pensions of nuclear workers.

GMB's Sellafield Strike Committee will meet later this week to decide on the date for the first strike, which is set to be sometime this month:

Since the days of the cold war, the deal for isolated local nuclear communities like Sellafield has been that in exchange for the risks associated with nuclear waste reprocessing - which most people don't want on their doorsteps - they had stable job opportunities, on decent terms and conditions and with secure pensions when production ceased.

Gnawing away continually at this social contract has consequences. GMB members at Sellafield have had enough with this unfair treatment that has seen their pay fail to keep pace with inflation over recent years. The decision to take industrial action is never, ever taken lightly but shows the level of real anger on the site.

GMB members at Sellafield have had enough of the Company imposing their pay upon them, it is no surprise they have voted by more than 3 to 1 to strike.

In addition the Company have made veiled threats in communications to our members around bonus payments when those in senior roles already receive an additional large performance bonus. In other words there is one rule for those in senior roles and one rule for industrial workers. The fact is that the pay offer of 1.5% is a pay cut.

The way that Sellafield Ltd have handled this process has been yet another example of how not to manage and how not to do things. The decision to take industrial action is never, ever taken lightly but shows the level of real anger and betrayal felt by our members who want decent pay for the vital work they do, day in day out"

– Chris Jukes, GMB Senior Organiser

In a statement, Sellafield Ltd. said:

We believe that a no-strings attached 1.5% pay increase is both fair and reasonable. We made that offer based on company affordability, and it was accepted by the Union which has collective bargaining rights for the largest group of our workforce.

The GMB represents around 2,000 of our 10,500 strong workforce. Clearly, we are disappointed at the GMB’s ballot result, and will now start to finalise our arrangements to ensure that the site remains safe and secure during any subsequent action.

– Sellafield Ltd. statement