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Thousands of Sellafield workers prepare to strike

76% of members voted to take industrial action Photo: ITV Border

A total of 3,000 GMB members working at Sellafield, in Cumbria, will go on strike tomorrow.

The 24-hour strike will take place from 6.01am on Wednesday 27 September to 5.59am on Thursday 28 September.

Picketing will take place at the site’s North Gate, Main Gate and Calder Gate from the start of strike and throughout the day.

It was announced on Monday 4 September that 76% of members voted to take industrial action.

This followed the company's decision to impose a below-inflation pay offer of 1.5%. RPI inflation is currently 3.9%.

Unite the Union is also balloting its 2,000 members with the result due on Monday 2 October.

Last year GMB members accepted a 0.25% pay rise in order to stop management cutting the pay of apprentices at the site.

Pay over recent years has failed to keep up with inflation and from next year the majority of Sellafield workers will have to pay more towards their pensions.

GMB says minimum safety manning levels will be maintained so that the workforce and community are safe:

It is a crying shame that we have reached this position and there is huge frustration at the management culture inside Sellafield.

GMB members have not sought dispute and they do not want to strike but Sellafield Limited has created this.

Macho management and an upstairs downstairs culture where the big bosses receive eye-watering bonuses whilst those on the shop floor have accepted - under sufferance - previous below inflation pay rises, seen worse terms and conditions for new starters imposed at vastly reduced rates of pay and from next year increased contributions for works pension.

Sellafield imposed a below inflation 1.5% rise for 2017/18, causing the dispute, because - by their own admission - they think that only staff grades matter.

A cultural overhaul in the management of Sellafield is urgently needed, without which the growth, jobs and new build in West Cumbria will remain elusive.

A social contract was laid out in the 1940’s in West Cumbria, which successive generations have bought into.

The workforce at Sellafield sense this contract is under attack and the dispute over pay is a symptom of a much wider problem.

GMB members should not have to pay the price for the masters and servants culture, or the shortfall in vision for Sellafield.

With a change of tack, Sellafield Ltd has a golden opportunity to take the workforce with it and set out a positive vision for the future.

GMB members just want a fair pay rise, an end to the upstairs downstairs culture and a leadership that can deliver vision, growth and jobs for Sellafield and the surrounding areas.

The NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) needs to talk some sense into the Sellafield’s top brass, get this dispute sorted and deliver a vision that the workforce, their families and the wider community can buy into.”

– Chris Jukes, GMB Senior Organiser

Sellafield said:

We believe a no-strings-attached 1.5% pay increase is fair and reasonable.

This is based on company affordability. We have been consistent throughout discussions with the trades unions.

Prospect - which has collective bargaining rights for more than half our workforce - has accepted the offer.

Our priority will be to ensure the site remains safe and secure. We are grateful to the GMB for agreeing to provide safety cover during the strike.

– Sellafield Ltd