Nuclear specialists take action for a fair share

Nuclear specialists take action for a fair share

Members at the Atomic Weapons Establishment are to balloted on industrial action over a pay offer for 2010.

Notification of the ballot has been sent to AWE and papers will be issued to members on November 2 with a closing date of November 16.

Prospect says AWE’s accounts show increased costs as a result of paying the board plus a dividend to the three controlling companies, who contribute nothing at all to AWE. AWE is run by a consortium on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The consortium, controlled by Lockheed Martin, Jacobs Engineering and Serco is financed from tax payers’ money to produce and maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Negotiations officer Bob King said: “Staff are furious that so much of that money is going to the controlling consortium and its board with so little going into a reasonable pay settlement for the staff who work at AWE. Some of the controlling companies supply contract staff and services to AWE at vastly inflated costs, which is a continuing burden. In 2009 alone this was over £54m.

“The pay offer would see most staff get less than a 2 per cent increase before tax and even those who do get 2 per cent will have already lost this amount in increased pension contributions. Employees at AWE are simply looking for a fair deal.

They have accepted increased pension costs, endured a huge reduction of posts including some compulsory redundancies, and had poor pay settlements imposed on them against a background of soaring profits for the controlling companies,” said King.

The union says their pay, in real terms, has been cut against both internal costs and external inflation of 4.6 per cent. AWE staff are entrusted with the construction and maintenance of the UK’s nuclear deterrent yet they are treated as ’bottom of the pile’ when it comes to being rewarded for their hard work and commitment.

“The small amount of money made available for pay, compared to the huge sums in both directors and consortium payouts, cannot reward the performance of staff properly. The very fact that AWE want to try and divide up the small amount put aside for staff on the basis of performance, makes the offer even more derisory,” said King.