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Warning that Dounreay could be facing ‘prolonged’ industrial action over pay dispute

By Gordon Calder

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Two unions at Dounreay are to strike on Wednesday after rejecting a new pay offer from management.

The Unite and GMB unions turned down the revised offer which proposed a one-off £500 payment on top of a basic 4.5 per cent increase. The deal was accepted by Prospect members.

Dounreay management is “disappointed” by the news of the strike but remains “committed to finding a resolution that is fair and affordable”.

Kim Thain, the vice-chair of the Trade Union Co-ordinating Committee at Dounreay, confirmed that GMB and Unite have rejected the new offer and will be on strike on Wednesday.

“There will be picketing at the site, and action short of a strike will commence on Thursday,” she said. “The next strike date of May 29 has been communicated to the company, and future dates will be notified to them over the next few days.

“I can confirm that Prospect has accepted the revised offer and is not taking part in any industrial action.”

Unite said its 500-plus members employed by Nuclear Restoration Services Limited (NRS) at Dounreay will take strike action.

The union explained that the new offer was “overwhelmingly rejected” by 80 per cent of the membership on a 92 per cent turnout

Unite maintains the offer amounts to a substantial pay cut as the true rate of inflation stood at 11.4 per cent when the pay increase was due in April 2023.

The union said a 24-hour strike is to take place on Wednesday with an overtime ban set to come into effect from the following day. A further day of action is also scheduled on May 29 but Unite is “actively” preparing to add further strike dates if no movement is made by NRS.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the revised pay offer was turned down because “it still represents a significant real terms pay cut”.

“We will continue to back our members at Dounreay power station all the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions,” she said.

Marc Jackson, Unite's industrial officer, added: “We have repeatedly told NRS that pay offers which amount to a significant pay cut just isn’t going to be tolerated. We have a growing membership at Dounreay, which is down to the hard work of our shop stewards, and NRS need to realise, if they don’t already, that we are heading for prolonged industrial action.

“Unite is actively looking at further days of action because NRS seem incapable of resolving this dispute through negotiation. The company should be under no illusions as to the determination of our members to get the pay rise they deserve.”

The union pointed out that the remuneration package of the highest paid NRS (formerly Magnox) director went up from £331,000 to £651,000 at March 2023, and the company paid dividends of £2.1 million in the same period.

Unite's Dounreay membership includes craft technicians, general operators, chemical and electrical engineers, and maintenance fitters and safety advisors. Members previously backed strike action by 85.5 per cent on a turnout of 82.3 per cent.

A Dounreay spokesman said: “We are disappointed by the announcement but remain committed to finding a resolution that is fair and affordable. Our contingency plans are being implemented to ensure the site remains safe, secure and compliant during any period of industrial action.”

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