1. ITV Report

Sellafield firefighters strike dates set following pay dispute

GMB argue that the firefighters are being underpaid for the work they do Photo: ITV Border

Sellafield firefighters will stage two 12.5 hour strikes in a dispute over pay, GMB has announced.

Industrial action will take place on Tuesday 17 October, between 6am and 6.30pm, and Thursday 19 October, between 6am and 6.30pm.

Firefighters were due to strike on 24 July, but more time was given to management to put in place a resolution to the dispute by the end of September.

GMB reports a resolution has not been put in place.

The union argues that the firefighters are being underpaid for the work they do.

Crews at Sellafield work to keep more than 10,000 workers on site safe, along with the surrounding communities.

In a separate dispute, GMB’s 3,000 members at Sellafield took part in a 24 hour strike last week after the company imposed a 1.5% pay offer.

Unite the Union's 1,200 Sellafield members voted on Monday 2 October to take strike action as part of the same dispute.

GMB made the following statement:

Sellafield Limited management made what GMB believed was an offer in good faith a couple of months ago to resolve this dispute, which dates back years, by introducing a warm zone allowance by the end of September.

Management have broken their promises with the latest offer at the end of last week.

GMB’s firefighters have remained professional throughout this process which started in 2012 undertaking all the relevant training courses required, many done on their rest days.

Sellafield Limited has spun a message of greed with 2,500 senior personnel on Sellafield earning eye-watering bonuses which are in every sense of the word an obscenity compared to what firefighters were promised.

There is a well developed masters and servants culture at Sellafield- senior management on top bonuses costing nearly £20million per year, against a steadfast refusal to recognise the efforts and skills of the workers expected to be in the thick of keeping the 10,000 workers on the site and the much wider community safe in the most difficult of circumstances.

Feedback from GMB members is that they want to do the work necessary to make the Sellafield site safe if difficult things happen.

We live in very uncertain times and the firefighters’ priority is to protect the community and the public at large.

GMB Members have been receptive to Sellafield management when they have been looking at work in what is known as warm zones areas - in other words, firefighters entering areas where a catastrophic incident might take place.

However, despite the apparent progress and promises two months ago, it appears senior management in Sellafield Limited have gone bent on their undertakings and returned to the incompetent communications and negotiating style that has become the way of some top brass at Sellafield in recent years.

GMB members feel insulted that management have taken this approach and even more incensed when management have expressed ‘disappointment’ with the response from GMB negotiators to the latest offer.

GMB members recognise, along with their families, that work on a Civil Nuclear Decommissioning Plant - with the accompanying risks from high levels of radioactive waste - means they should be appropriately rewarded.

The Company has sought to denigrate and bad mouth firefighters by inappropriate comparisons with workers outside the site."

– Chris Jukes, Senior Organiser, GMB

A Sellafield spokesperson said:

We made an offer to the firefighters which included an additional allowance for carrying out extra work.

We agreed to work with the GMB and the firefighters to assess the value of that allowance. We remain open to further discussions.

Our focus is on putting in place arrangements to ensure the site remains safe during any industrial action."

– Sellafield Ltd