‘Union-busting’ nuclear team faces flak over pay
Mark Leftly is political correspondent at The Independent on Sunday and associate business editor across the Independent titles. He writes a weekly column, Parliamentary Business, published on a Wednesday, that covers politics and the City. He is a multi-award winning reporter and was named Press Gazette's business magazine journalist of the year prior to joining The Independent on Sunday.
Monday 02 June 2014
The consortium working on the £70bn-plus clear-up of the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria has been accused of “American-style union busting”.
After protracted negotiations, the GMB union recently succeeded in securing a pay rise for employees known as health physics monitors, who include industrial experts measuring radiation levels. Their roles have been considerably expanded in recent years.
The deal with Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), the US-led consortium overseeing the decommissioning, resulted in 400 staff being bumped up a pay grade.
This means they effectively move from being categorised as blue to white collar workers, so that they are no longer entitled to be members of the GMB. Instead, they can join Prospect, which represents managers.
GMB’s national secretary for energy, Gary Smith, told The Independent that rather than just handing over the deserved pay rise, NMP was “punishing” the union for its public criticisms of the consortium’s mismanagement of Sellafield. “This is good old-fashioned, American-style union busting,” he said.
The consortium comprises the US engineering conglomerate NMP, the FTSE-100 stalwart Amec and the French nuclear energy group Areva. They won the contract to handle Sellafield in 2009. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority extended the deal last year, although Sellafield’s clean-up costs have spiralled and a string of major projects have been delayed. A detailed report by KPMG last year was highly critical of its work.
NMP runs the clean-up as the parent body of Sellafield Ltd. A spokesman said: “Sellafield Ltd values the important role played by our unions and we have no plans to review the recognition agreement.”
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