Hinkley Point could be delayed after unions vote for strike ballot

'Members have made their views clear; the unions warned the amount of money being offered was not sufficient and this has proved to be the case'

Hinkley Point, where the UK's new nuclear power station is being built
Hinkley Point, where the UK's new nuclear power station is being built

Work on the Hinkley Point nuclear power station could be delayed again after unions representing civil engineers announced a strike ballot will take place over a pay dispute.

The UK’s first new nuclear plant in two decades has been beset with difficulties after the project was launched on the Somerset coast. It is both behind schedule and significantly over budget.

Now, the GMB and Unite unions will put members to the vote on whether to take industrial action after talks broke down between French energy giant EDF and chief contractor BYLOR.

One of the main sticking points is that pay for workers on civil engineering contracts is significantly below the rates of mechanical engineers.

Unite’s national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “Members have made their views clear; the unions warned the amount of money being offered was not sufficient and this has proved to be the case.

“The client and contractors need to understand that this is a high profile, complex project, built in a tightly controlled secure zone, which is being built in an isolated part of the UK. It cannot and will not be built on the cheap.

“For too long the construction industry has treated workers on civil engineering projects as the poor relations and these attitudes are no longer acceptable.”

In a separate action, staff from outsourcing group Capita will walk out for a five-day strike in October over changes to the company’s pension scheme that Unite says will result in a “massive cut” to their income on retirement.

EDF energy revealed the cost of the project has soared from £18 billion to £20.3 billion and that completion would be delayed by 15 months.

Due to finish in 2025, the company said the first reactor might not start producing electricity until 2027, with the second also running nine months behind schedule.

The company said in a statement it was “disappointed” at the decision to hold a strike ballot.

“The terms and conditions of employment at Hinkley Point C are superior to anything you will find in the UK construction industry,” the firm added.

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