THE threat of a strike by Sellafield workers has been put on hold after an agreement to hold further talks in a row over pensions.

Union leaders met energy minister Jesse Norman over controversial plans to reform the pensions of Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) employees, to make savings of £660 million.

The meeting was said to be constructive, leading unions to delay announcing a strike ballot.

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB, said: "The meeting has opened up the possibility of genuine negotiations to take place for the first time.

"The talks will start immediately and the unions will meet again with the minister within the next fortnight.

"Since the days of the Cold War, the deal for nuclear local communities has been that in exchange for the high risks associated with nuclear energy production and nuclear waste reprocessing these isolated communities had stable job opportunities, on decent terms and conditions and with secure pensions when production ceased.

"What is still proposed is a government betrayal of nuclear workers and their communities that calls into question that accord, with massive potential implications."

The unions represent thousands of workers mainly involved in nuclear reprocessing at sites including Sellafield.

An NDA spokesman said: "We had a constructive discussion with the unions and look forward to a second meeting in the near future."