GMB trade union members are striking at Sellafield nuclear plant next week over a dispute concerning pay.
Health Physics Monitors (HPMs), who assess radiological safety, will take action from midnight on 28th July for 24 hours for better pay.
The result of the official strike ballot was announced on 6th July 2015 when 97.8% voted Yes and 2.2% voted No – with a turnout of 83.76%.
HPMs are trained to provide radiological advice and safety to protect staff, the power plant and the environment.
GMB assured Sellafield safety levels will be maintained throughout the strike.
Chris Jukes, GMB Senior Organiser, told ELN: “Potentially [the strike] is about the health and safety.” He said the HPMs are in a dispute which goes back to “probably 1999 or 2000”.
Mr Jukes added the company made an offer this year, which the union was prepared to recommend, however when they looked at the criteria it was “clear not many people would benefit out of the HPMs working group”.
He said: “There are 400 monitors and they’d be lucky if there were 20 [which met] the criteria. Management couldn’t confirm what the figure was – it was an unknown number – and things sort of just escalated from there unfortunately.”
He added certain skill levels must be met which he claims many of the members met although the company “late in the day, had another criteria set in, which basically skewed the results”.
However, Sellafield said “there has only ever been one set of criteria” and it is not true changes were made.
The firm added: “The GMB believes the majority of the workforce should qualify for extra payments. We maintain a set of criteria should be met in order to qualify and only a minority of workers meet this criteria.”
Sellafield went on to say “the dispute lies in the interpretation of the criteria for further payment” and its “position is absolutely clear – the principle of offering any level of payment is to further reward those whose work merits further reward”.
It said if it applies a blanket payment across the majority of the HPM’s community it would be “unable to justify value to the taxpayer” and it “would fail in [its] original intention to recognise and reward those working at a higher level”.
The company added: “It is regrettable we find ourselves in the position where strike action is a possibility. Short of giving in to what we consider to be unreasonable demands we have taken every reasonable step to avoid action.”
Last week GMB said nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C should go ahead despite concerns.