PROTESTERS will gather outside a nuclear site in Ellesmere Port today (Wednesday).

GMB Cheshire, the union for engineering construction, and Unite have mobilised members to protest against Urenco and Jacobs seeking to take the site outside the scope of the national agreement for engineering construction industry (NAECI).

The agreement sets out terms and conditions for employees and GMB suspect Urenco and Jacobs of making a ‘determined effort’ to undermine them. The agreement includes bonus payments and dispute resolution procedures. Unite says the removal of the bonus payment will mean the workers will lose around £100 a week.

From 6am, members will gather outside to register their dissatisfaction.

The Tails Management Facility (TMF) construction project was to have Category 1 status under NAECI but Urenco and Jacobs claim the job is not large enough so the national agreement is not required. But GMB says that is just an excuse.

In November the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) completed the transfer of its Capenhurst site to Urenco subsidiary Capenhurst Nuclear Services (CNS).

GMB says the project was always planned to be NAECI Category 1 status but the new owners have now gone back on this.

Albie McGuigan, GMB regional officer, said: “Urenco at Capenhurst is a nuclear site. Urenco with contractor Jacobs have undertook a major engineering construction project on the TMF plant. This has been planned for a number of years and was always planned to be NAECI Category 1 status.

“Urenco and Jacobs are now claiming the job is not large enough to deserve the full status and therefore NAECI agreement is not required.

“GMB believe this a determined effort by both to undermine the terms and conditions of the engineering construction national agreement.

“The national agreement has set out terms and conditions for over 30 years. GMB call on construction workers to defend NAECI robustly with as many protests as needed. This is the first one planned.”

A statement on behalf of Jacobs and Urenco ChemPlants read: “The Tails Management Facility (TMF) project has been consulting with local Trade Union Officers from both the Unite Union and the GMB Union on the site arrangements and employment conditions on the TMF project.

“Jacobs and Urenco ChemPlants Ltd have given assurances to abide by all national industry collective agreements which are appropriate to the type of work.

Discussions on a number of local site specific matters have taken place with the local trade union officers of both trade unions. Following the most recent meeting on February 4, agreement had been reached to meet again in March when it is anticipated that, based around the previous discussions, the outstanding issues will be resolved amicably.

“We were, therefore, both surprised and disappointed to learn of the joint union decision, which will cause disruption to the construction programme at the TMF site

and disturbance to the residents of Capenhurst village. We hope that the unions will reconsider their current course of action and re-engage in constructive discussion.”