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Sunday, 25 February

Nuclear Strikes Imminent

Construction workers employed at Hinkley Point have rejected a pay offer in the longstanding dispute over pay and bonuses on the project.

The unions concerned, GMB and Unite, will now go ahead with notifying the companies concerned of their intention of holding an industrial action ballot and then progress to ballot members for strike action.

The dispute, which has been ongoing since the spring, concerns the pay of workers engaged on civil engineering contracts at what is the largest construction project in Europe.

There are already over a 1,000 workers employed on at Hinkley Point. Negotiations on the pay offer have involved the client EDF and the main contractor BYLOR (the principal contractor Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues TP) as well as the unions.

A ballot for strike action was called off in June after an interim agreement on bonus payments was agreed.

One of the principal issues is that the pay rates for workers on civil engineering contracts are significantly below the rates of workers covered by the mechanical and engineering contract.

 

Moorside Nuclear plant investment

Meanwhile, the GMB (which describes itself as the energy union) has said most members of the public will be looking on in continued bewilderment at the financing of the proposed Moorside nuclear plant.

The GMB says a bid by Chinese nuclear company CGN for a stake in Moorside is not the solution to the problems of the planned new nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria which is supposed to deliver 7% of the UK’s electricity needs from 2025.

State backed China General Nuclear (CGN), confirmed this week ending Sept 22 that it is in the running to shore up the £10billion project in exchange for an equity share. The Moorside project has been beset by a number of setbacks in recent months beginning with Toshiba’s US arm Westinghouse, which is producing reactors for Moorside, going bust which led to Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga stepping down and French investors Engie walking away from the deal.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: "The latest offer of overseas 'aid' to the stuttering Moorside project, this time by the Chinese government, suggests the lessons of Toshiba have still to be learned.

“Britain vitally needs a new fleet of nuclear power stations to replace the existing ageing fleet and ensure we have zero carbon electricity that is not reliant on the sun shining or the wind blowing. Moorside is an integral part of guaranteeing the UK’s future domestic and industry energy needs into the next decade and beyond.

“Keeping the lights on and powering our industries is a state function and this makes the UK government the lender of last resort.

"Most members of the public will be looking on in continued bewilderment at the financing pantomime surrounding Moorside and asking why on earth the UK government hasn’t stepped in rather than touting around the world looking for another government to take over a responsibility that ultimately rests with it?

“The UK civil nuclear industry was once the envy of the world; going cap in hand to the Chinese, Koreans or whoever is not the solution when Moorside and new nuclear should be a key cornerstone of government-led UK industrial strategy going forward. The UK government cannot keep pretending to be a passive spectator.”

Picture: Artist's impression of the Moorside nuclear plant

Article written by Robin Snow

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