Dispute over union representation at Sellafield continues


Workers at Sellafield nuclear power plant in West Cumbria have voted in favour of industrial action.

Unite the union said 98% of over 1,200 Unite members employed by Sellafield Contractor Group Limited had voted in favour of industrial action, over a dispute regarding the company’s alleged refusal to allow a full-time union shop steward, and “a more proactive remit for the site’s health and safety committee”. 

Workers will decide what type of industrial action they will take at a meeting next week (Tuesday 21 April). 

Negotiations to resolve the ten month dispute between Unite, Sellafield Contractor Group Limited and the Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) broke down on Wednesday (15 April), Unite said. 

Unite urged Sellafield Contractor Group management to “get back around the negotiating table in a bid to find a reasonable settlement that addresses its employees very reasonable request”. 

Unite regional officer Steve Benson said: “Our members have lost patience with Sellafield management who have steadfastly continued to ignore our very reasonable request. 

“All they are asking for is their rights for a co-worker to become a union shop steward at the Sellafield site to represent construction workers and keep them safe. It makes sense for our members and the company and it will help improve industrial relations and a safety and welfare culture at the site. 

“Unite members have no wish to take action but are being forced to do so by a company unwilling to take our members’ concerns seriously. Unite has a proud track record of working with employers to resolve disputes and is urging Sellafield to get back to serious talks.” 

A spokesperson for Sellafield said: “We are aware that discussions have taken place between Unite union and the contracting community about a ballot that could potentially lead to industrial action by those members.

“Sellafield Ltd is not directly involved in the potential dispute, which does not involve any of our employees, but we will be monitoring the issue closely. We hope all parties can reach agreement as soon as possible. Safety and security at the site will be unaffected by any resulting industrial action.”