Contractors on the Sellafield site will not return to work until Monday, after walking out over alleged safety issues.

Hundreds of workers from several of the site’s contracting companies held a mass meeting on Tuesday lunchtime and voted to walk.

UNITE deputy senior steward at Sellafield Mark Todd said the walkout surrounded a ‘serious incident’ with a mewp over the weekend on the BEP project..

“After a serious incident involving a mewp, the workers believed the site wasn’t safe,” said Mr Todd.

“We held a mass meeting on Tuesday lunchtime where a vote was taken that we would return back to work next Monday.”

Mr Todd admitted that there had been a breakdown in trust between the workers and the management, but that this was something the union was keen to address.

“There has been a complete breakdown in talks between both parties, workers and management,” he said.

“As a union we will try our best to work on this when we return.

“We want to sit down and see why the trust has broken down on both sides.”

Mr Todd added that safety was a key issue for the union but also that workers were willing to put in the hours to ensure jobs were completed in safe surroundings.

He went on to add: “The union did allow working to continue after a critical safety incident on the project at B31, round the clock.

“We have provided whatever manpower the project needed because we believe safety has to always come first.

“And we believe that everyone on site should take that view.”

The BEP project involves workers from several contracting firms on the site.

A Sellafield Ltd spokesperson said on Tuesday that they were aware of the situation and they were monitoring it.

A statement said: “We are aware of an industrial relations issue involving contractors at the Sellafield site.

“Those involved are not employees of Sellafield Ltd and therefore we do not have a formal role in any negotiations.

“We are monitoring the situation and we will take any necessary steps to ensure that safety, security, and operations are unaffected.”