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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Workers to strike over pay dispute

FORTY-ONE Cumbrian workers are set to take industrial action over a pay and conditions dispute.

Sellafield is bracing itself for industrial action next week as former employees of the VT Group, who work as contractors at the west Cumbria site, voted to go on strike.

Engineering firm Babcock staged a reported £1.3bn takeover of the group in July this year.

Following a pay freeze imposed by VT Group in April, Babcock offered a 1.75 per cent rise, effective from July.

Members of the Unite union have voted to take industrial action, and will see 41 members work to rule and do no overtime on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Alan Westnedge, regional officer for Unite, said the decision had not been taken lightly.

He added: “The individuals live locally and operate monitoring equipment for people going out of active areas.

“Industrial action is always a last resort, but our members were due a rise in April this year.

“Prior to the sale going ahead, trade unions wrote to Babcock pointing out they may inherit the dispute and they have.

“In the 12 months ending March 31 2010, Babcock Group have reported a profit of £240m pre tax profit.

“This is not a company that can’t afford to pay, it doesn’t want to pay.

“I hope the company will review its position and continue negotiating with Unite.”

Sellafield Ltd said measures had been taken to minimise the impact.

A spokesman said: “Sellafield Ltd has been made aware of the majority ballot vote for industrial action by Unite union members working for Babcock, in the form of an overtime ban and work to rule, to be undertaken by its members on the Sellafield site.

“Contingency measures have been identified to minimise the impact on the service provided to the site and to ensure no impact upon the safe operation of the facilities throughout any period of industrial action.”

A spokesman for Babcock said the company was aware of the action but he was unable to comment.

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