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Construction of Hinkley Point C – the biggest construction project in Europe at the moment – could be stalled after workers rejected a pay offer in a long-term dispute over bonuses and salaries.
More than 95 per cent of GMB and Unite union members voted against a proposed pay increase, with the unions now to press ahead with letting EDF know that an industrial action ballot will now be held, which will then move on to balloting members for strike action.
One of the biggest issues is that workers on civil engineering contracts are paid significantly less than those working under mechanical and engineering contracts.
This dispute has been going on since spring. A strike action ballot was called off back in June after both sides agreed on an interim bonus payments scheme. This agreement was then extended into September with the aim being to strike up a permanent deal.
“The client and contractors need to understand that this is a high profile, complex project, built in a tightly controlled secure zone, which is being built in an isolated part of the UK. It cannot and will not be built on the cheap.
“For too long the construction industry has treated workers on civil engineering projects as the poor relations and these attitudes are no longer acceptable,” Jerry Swain, Unite national officer for construction, said.
Back in July, EDF admitted that the project could be finished 15 months behind schedule and is currently at least £1.5 billion over budget. The cost overrun could eventually reach £2.2 billion, which would mean £20.3 billion would be spent on the UK’s first nuclear power station for more than 20 years.
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