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Sellafield industrial action looms

A group of construction workers at Sellafield nuclear power station have voted in favour of industrial action.

Trade union Unite said 98% of 1,200 members were in favour of the action in a dispute over safety and representation.

The union wants a full time union shop steward at Sellafield as well as a more proactive remit for the site’s health and safety committee.

Unite said its members would decide what type of industrial action to take at a meeting next week.

It said the workers were in dispute with a number of contractors working on the plant.

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 [our members] 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.” 

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.”

The Cumbria power station, which started generating electricity in the mid-1950s, entered a formal decommissioning phase in 2005.

Well over 1,000 buildings need to be decommissioned in an operation expected to take more than 100 years.

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