Workers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over pay.
Members of the Prospect union at AWE, which supports and maintains the UK nuclear deterrent, will vote in the next two weeks on whether to launch a campaign of action.
Prospect said AWE recently became an arms-length body of the Ministry of Defence with freedom on pay awards but has refused to negotiate, and had presented a “full and final” offer of 6%.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “Several years of deteriorating workforce engagement and stagnating real-terms pay has left workers at AWE with no option but to move once again towards industrial action.
“The lack of proper engagement has been typified by management presenting the offer as a done deal, with no rationale given for the number, nor any space for negotiation.
“Staff are struggling with the basic costs of living which is simply unbelievable in the organisation that is building and maintaining our nuclear deterrent.
“This is not a workforce that can bear a high level of churn while safely functioning – the jobs require too high a degree of training.
“If the MoD and AWE don’t think again and make a pay offer that reflects the still rocketing cost of living, there is a real risk that AWE will struggle to recruit and retain the skills that it needs.
When asked about the impact of a possible strike an AWE spokesperson said: “As soon as the pay mandate extended to AWE, in its capacity as an Arm’s-Length Body of government, was released, negotiations with our Trade Unions, Unite and Prospect, began. The offer compares favourably with the best deals achieved across the wider public sector and in private defence industries.
” We are disappointed that members of the Prospect Trade Union have voted for industrial action and we will continue to engage with our trade unions in working towards reaching a satisfactory resolution for all parties.
“The safety and security of Atomic Weapons Establishment sites are of the highest priority and in the event of industrial action pre-planned contingency measures would be implemented to ensure the continued safety of operations. Delivery of the UK’s nuclear deterrent would be unaffected.”
Alan Jones – PA