Thousands of furious nuclear workers at sites in Cumbria are threatening strike action over attempts to cut their pensions.
Union members say they will oppose the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s “crude attempt’’ to make savings of £660m.
Their comments come following a meeting, held in London yesterday between union leaders representing thousands of nuclear workers, including nearly 7,000 at Sellafield, and the NDA.
More than 11,000 workers at 19 sites across the country face cuts under plans by the NDA including workers at the Sellafield site, Direct Rail Services, Low Level Waste Repository and International Nuclear Services.
The unions said the Government’s expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA, will be reformed by April 2018.
After the meeting, the representatives from the four unions – Prospect, GMB, Unite and ASLEF/TSSA – released a joint statement in which they
challenged the NDA’s justification for launching the formal consultation on reforming nuclear workers’ pensions, which are covered by statutory protection.
In it, Prospect deputy general secretary Dai Hudd said: “Our members are justifiably angry, and will oppose this crude attempt to break agreements enshrined in law.
“The Electricity Act 1989 and the Energy Act 2004 provide statutory pensions protection for staff whose employment transferred from the public sector when the electricity industry was privatised, and those employed on nuclear decommissioning or site clean-up.
“Jesse Norman, who replaced Baroness Neville Rolfe on 21 December as the responsible minister, must heed the unions’ responses to the consultation. If he refuses to listen, members’ anger will boil over in to more direct action.
“Today’s meeting has made clear that the unions are prepared to consider further legal action and consult members on potential industrial action if their responses to the consultation are ignored.”
Prospect members will meet later in January to consider further steps in the campaign.
The NDA has just started a statutory consultation on the proposed government cuts to final salary pension benefits across the NDA estate.
That consultation will end on March 10.
An NDA spokesman said: “The government’s aim is to make public sector pensions fair and to put them on an affordable and sustainable footing.”
It has further stated that: “Final salary pension schemes across the NDA estate are within the scope of public sector pension reform.”
The unions declared the NDA’s statements as “misleading and deeply flawed”.