Three unions – Prospect, Unite and Unison – have each informed the company that they are balloting members from 8 December to 5 January, on action short of strike. Any action would start some time in January, but members would respond to emergencies and ensure vulnerable people are not affected.
The unions claimed a one-year increase linked to RPI inflation. But National Grid came back with a three-year offer worth 2.5% from 1 July this year; 2.25% from 1 July 2011; and 2.25% from 1 July 2012. The offer is also conditional on unions agreeing to a review of the performance bonus system.
“This is less than half the cost of living as on the 2010 review date inflation was 5.1%,” said Prospect National Secretary Emily Boase. “Members think that’s unfair, since National Grid has seen a 12% increase in pre-tax profits and an 8% increase in dividends. That’s thanks to dedication and hard work by staff, who feel affronted to be so undervalued.”
National Grid’s directors have been dealt a different hand – five featured in the Labour Research Department’s league table of the ten highest paid directors in the UK, she said.
“Members want the company to restore their pay to RPI and show their contribution is valued. It is unfair that they should bear the cost of rising inflation and the 20% VAT increase, in the light of the company’s own profits. What’s more, National Grid will lose out if it doesn’t listen because recruitment of skilled transmission staff will suffer.”
Prospect has 1,050 members in National Grid, including grid systems engineers, field engineers, gas operations engineers, office-based development engineers and managers working with new connections. Personal contract holders are not being balloted.