More than 1,200 workers down tooled for a couple of hours last Friday morning (5th August 2015) in a dispute over the right of subcontractors to have a full-time union convenor on site. The Unite union is labelling the dispute a health & safety issue.
Members of Unite, the country’s largest union, working for a total of 14 subcontractors are in various stages of taking industrial action or being balloted for strike action.
Workers from four companies – Balfour Beatty Engineering Construction Services, Cape Industrial Services; Jacobs Stobbarts and Mitie Facilities Services – have been involved in some form of industrial action already.
They are set to be joined by workers from a further five subcontractors who have voted by an average of 82% for strike action and by 87% for industrial action short of a strike. These work for: Focus Scaffolding, Hertel UK, Interserve Industrial Services, Meldrum and PPS Electrical.
Ballots are also being held at Amec Foster Wheeler, Doosan Babcock, Hargreaves, Nuvia and PC Richardson & Co. These ballots open today (Wednesday 12th August) and close on Wednesday 26th August.
Unite regional secretary for the north west Mick Whitley said: “The campaign of industrial action is widening and shop stewards from the subcontracting companies will be meeting at the site at 09.00 on Friday to hammer out a strategy to put pressure on the sub-contractors and Sellafield Ltd.
“Sellafield is an important nuclear facility where health and safety and the welfare of workers should be paramount. Our experience shows that a full-time union convenor would help ensure a healthier, more productive and profitable workplace.
“Before industrial action steps up a gear, we would urge the management to get around the table for constructive and meaningful talks. Unite is prepared to meet the management at any time and any place to resolve this escalating dispute.”