NUCLEAR workers at Capenhurst are to be balloted on industrial action after last-ditch pay negotiations broke down on Friday.
The move follows an earlier decision to suspend the ballot in favour of fresh talks after more than 4,000 members of the nuclear union Prospect who work for Sellafield Ltd at Sellafield, Risley and Capenhurst, overwhelmingly rejected a 2% offer in May, described as “the worst they have received in living memory.”
The union’s national secretary, Mike Graham, said: “Our members have always sought to resolve this issue via negotiation but equally we are not prepared to sell them short.
“After nine intensive days of talks the company has still not been able to table an offer that comes close to our members’ expectations.
“The final offer rejected amounted to 2% on basic pay and a potential 2% efficiency bonus.”
He added: “We recognise that Sellafield’s holding company, British Nuclear Fuels, faces Government pressure to hold down pay in advance of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority awarding the clean-up contract to a new parent body organisation.
“But our members should not be expected to tolerate an award that is below the market rate and relies unduly on efficiency bonuses because of behind-the-scenes interference from the Treasury and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.”
The Prospect members will, subject to the union’s national executive council’s approval, be asked to vote in favour of strike action as well as action short of a strike.
In a statement, Sellafield Ltd said: “We feel strongly that the offer was a fair one when taken in the context of the challenging climate in which the business is currently operating.
“Despite the best efforts of all concerned the budget remains tight, and 2% is a figure that the company genuinely feels is a realistic amount to guarantee employees.
“In spite of the challenging conditions in which we are operating, the company has given assurances that there will be no enforced redundancies and our workers continue to enjoy generous terms and conditions, including a final salary pension scheme and bonus scheme, which recently paid each member of staff over £1,200.
“Safety will remain the company’s number one priority during this time.”