In a ballot of Prospect’s 200 members working as scientists, engineers and specialist staff at RSRL’s Harwell and Winfrith sites, 74% voted in favour of taking industrial action, with 95% backing action short of a strike, on a turnout of 85%.
While the strike date has still to be set the union believes the action will halt decommissioning activity – although measures will be agreed in advance with RSRL to ensure there is no risk to operational safety at either site.
Negotiator Richard Tabbner said: “Our members are rightly angry that despite an agreed settlement date of April each year, the company delayed the 2011 award and tried to link it to moves to restructure other terms and conditions.
“We thought progress had been made in November with an agreement to separate negotiations on the two issues but members were further incensed when the company reneged and linked the offer to a buyout of banked time earned by staff covering the Christmas closure period. The offer was unanimously rejected by our members.”
The deal put forward only amounted to a 1% consolidated increase plus 0.9% in return for the loss of 1.5 days holiday for staff having to take leave at Christmas due to RSRL’s decision to close the site. Prospect maintains that not only are the leave arrangements RSRL is attempting to remove common across the nuclear sector, but the pay deal falls short of other stand-alone agreements.
Tabbner said: “At no time has the company provided any financial evidence that it is not in a position to deliver an acceptable offer. RSRL is part of the Babcock Nuclear Business Unit, as is Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), where negotiations concluded with a 2% basic rise, plus increases in performance related-pay and a more generous Christmas cover arrangement.
“In addition, despite the relatively high costs of living around Harwell and Winfrith, pay rises have fallen well below inflation over the past five years. Our members feel that the employer’s actions to-date have left them with no choice other than to take industrial action. But this could still be avoided if RSRL put a sensible offer on the table.”