Nuclear strike averted? Thousands of workers to be balloted over “new and improved” pensions deal

Oliver Gill
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GBR: Sellafield Nuclear Plant In West Cumbria
Sellafield is one of several nuclear decommissioning plants operated by NDA (Source: Getty)

Thousands of the UK’s nuclear decommissioning workers are in line for a “new and improved” pensions deal as unions prepare to put changes to the ballot.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has been in talks with four unions over plans to reduce the value of payouts to pension scheme members. A deal was hammered out in March after energy minister Jesse Norman stepped in.

GMB and Unite, which represent around 7,000 of Britain's 11,000-strong decommissioning workforce, will put a negotiated deal to the vote between 12 and 30 June.

Read more: Nuclear strike: Decommissioning workers to vote over pensions

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said the agreement was "best deal" that could be negotiated on behalf of members.

He added: “A significant achievement was to roll back the £620m savings demanded by the treasury to a more manageable figure of £320m."

In January, GMB, Unite, Prospect and Aslef threatened "the first industrial action in a generation" in the wake of NDA plans to adjust the calculation of final salary pension pots. Instead of workers receiving a pension based on earnings at the end of their working life, payouts would be based on career average earnings.

GMB national secretary for nuclear Justin Bowden said the intervention by Norman was an important factor in brokering a deal. He added that had the Conservative party not called a General Election, the agreement would have already been put to the ballot.

Read more: Hitting the nuclear button: Labour MP departure sets up by-election

Opinion polls published over the last week have indicated Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have narrowed the gap on the Conservatives. And Bowden said GMB would have "to review where we were" in the event of Labour victory and "would be seeking early meetings".

A spokesperson for NDA said: “Earlier in the year, the NDA ran a consultation process with all affected employees across its estate.

“Discussions with the trade unions on this issue are already well advanced – the unions seeking the views of their members is an important part of this process.”

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