Delays to essential services as HSE pay dispute continues


Delays to essential services as HSE pay dispute continues

Members of the specialist union Prospect vowed to continue their industrial dispute today (Thursday) after management at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced it is imposing its 2003 pay offer, worth 1.7% to the most experienced staff and nothing to specialist grades.

"Members are incensed that the HSE Board, whose own pay increases for the same period topped five figures in some cases, have imposed pay cuts on nearly a third of staff," explained Prospect negotiator Richard Hardy.

"Our members are committed to continuing their work-to-rule, in support of our claim for a minimum 2% increase for all, which has already begun to bite into HSE’s workload. Working only their contracted hours has led to delays in areas where HSE clearance is needed to make changes to working practices or introduce new machinery.

"For example, some nuclear power stations have seen delays in bringing reactors back on line, although safety has never been put at risk. If this dispute continues into the winter it could have an adverse impact on power supplies. The work-to-rule could also result in delays to new railway rolling stock being approved or to changes in oil production practices."

The action by Prospect members will not, however, affect the day-to-day safety of workers or the public as members in dispute regard preventative inspections as a priority.

"The HSE Board have brought this damaging action on themselves by proposing that experienced staff take pay cuts to bail HSE out of its equal pay problems, and then by this heavy-handed decision to impose the offer," said Steve Kay, Prospect Branch Chair at HSE. "They can easily end it by increasing their offer to 2%."

Steve Lewis, chair of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate Branch,said: "Our members understand that HSE has problems with its pay system and are happy to look at ways we can move forward together, as we have done before. What we are not prepared to accept is cuts in our members’ pay to remedy problems that are not their fault."

Prospect intends to submit its pay claim for 2004 in August and expects the dispute to continue.