GMB Union has today opened a ballot asking thousands of members at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbria whether they want to carry out strike action in a pay dispute.
The union has accused Sellafield's owners of ignoring repeated requests for further talks after it offered a below-inflation payrise of 1.5 per cent.
GMB is balloting its 3,000 members at the nuclear site, while Unite union is also balloting 2,000 members at Sellafield. The ballot will close on Monday 4 September.
The unions have said as part of government-led changes to pensions, two-thirds of Sellafield workers will also be forced to pay an extra two to six per cent on their pension contributions from next year.
Chris Jukes, GMB senior organiser, said:
Pay at Sellafield for all but the top brass has failed to keep pace with inflation in recent years and it came as no surprise to GMB when our members voted by a ratio of nine to one to reject Sellafield Ltd’s pay offer, which is less than half the RPI inflation rate.
At the same time, Sellafield management have chipped away relentlessly at terms and conditions.
In the circumstances, we now have no alternative but to ask our members if they are willing to take strike action in order to achieve a pay offer in line with inflation.
When the ballot was announced earlier this month, a Sellafield spokesperson said the 1.5 per cent pay rise represents a £12m year-on-year increase to the firm's wage bill.
Like all publicly funded organisations we have to control costs and ensure we are delivering value for money for the tax payer, so we’re implementing a pay award which we feel is fair, reasonable and, most importantly, affordable.
The spokesperson added that a third union with collective bargaining rights for over half the workforce had accepted the rise.