M&E workers on a nuclear power project in the west of Scotland have launched a series of weekly strikes after contractor Balfour Kilpatrick cut their wages.

Union sources fear that the action, at Hunterston nuclear power stations A and B in Ayrshire, could be copied by employers across the nuclear decommissioning sector.

The workers, members of Amicus, intend to strike every Tuesday and Wednesday until further notice in protest at Balfour Kilpatrick’s scrapping of a 50p-an-hour bonus.

John Quigley, the Scottish regional secretary, said: “Amicus nuclear power station workers in Scotland are not prepared to see their wages cut, particularly when there is £42bn of nuclear decommissioning work to be done across the UK with a significant proportion of it taking place in Scotland.”

It is understood that employers in the nuclear construction sector fear that wages will rise once the government’s expected programme of construction gets under way.

In July it emerged that the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment was in talks over adopting the major projects agreement on a £1bn scheme. Under the agreement, electricians at Heathrow Terminal 5 earn more than £55,000 a year.

Clients British Energy and British Nuclear Group have refused to step into the dispute on behalf of the union, which has also made representations to employment council the Scottish Joint Industry Board.

It is understood that the bonus agreement had been in place for 30 years before it was scrapped by Balfour Kilpatrick this summer.

A Balfour Kilpatrick spokesperson said the firm was applying nationally agreed rates on the project.