UK – Unions have threatened strike action at nuclear power stations across the UK at the start of next year, due to a failure by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) to consult with or inform members on pension scheme changes.
This comes as Prime Minister Tony Blair reignited a debate this week about nuclear’s role in energy policy.
The unions - Amicus, T&G and GMB - are demanding a meeting with the BNFL and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to discuss pension changes ahead of the planned sale of BNFL.
The threat comes as newspapers say the UK is facing a possible energy crisis this winter due to a lack of gas supply.
A letter was sent to BNFL and NDA chief executives Mike Parker Ian Roxburgh yesterday. An Amicus spokesperson told IPE that while the unions requested a response by close of play today, they had still heard nothing.
"We have asked for an emergency meeting of the BNFL Board and for them to suspend the sales process associated with the Westinghouse Business and the consultation on the potential sale of BNG until we and our members are given the information so far denied to us and are able to be completely satisfied that their pensions are safeguarded,” said the unions’ national energy officials in a statement.
"We have also advised the two authorities that our members are preparing for a ballot for industrial action and unless the necessary information, involvement and assurances are provided our two and a half thousand members could be on strike early in the New Year."
The NDA has allegedly refused to give “essential information” to the unions enabling them to contribute towards scheme design and funding arrangements.
Amicus stated that no reason was given to the unions for this refusal.
The strike would result in the closure of all nuclear facilities and have a “significant impact” on energy output, said the spokesperson. She stated that Amicus could not speculate on whether a skeleton staff would be brought in to man the power stations.