More than 1,200 construction workers involved in the decommissioning and renewal project at Sellafield in Cumbria took part in a two and half hour strike on Wednesday 5 August, in a campaign to improve health and safety and productivity.
The members of Britain’s largest union, Unite, downed tools at 5:30am over a refusal by Sellafield Ltd and the group of sub-contractor companies to facilitate a full-time union convenor on the site.
Picket lines were set up outside the entrances to Sellafield including the main gate. This follows an ongoing work-to-rule and overtime ban, which has been in place since Friday 31 July.
The construction workers, working for 15 sub-contractors, are pressing for the creation of a full-time convenor on the site to improve industrial relations and help address growing health and safety concerns, as well as poor welfare facilities on the construction site.
Urging Sellafield Ltd and the sub-contractors to enter into meaningful talks, Unite warned of further stoppages unless there were serious moves to address workers’ concerns.
Unite regional secretary Mick Whitley said: “Sellafield is an important nuclear facility where health and safety and the welfare of workers should be paramount. Our experience shows that a full-time union convenor would help ensure a healthier, more productive and profitable workplace.
“Workers want to work in a safe environment with constructive industrial relations. The continued refusal by Sellafield Ltd and the sub-contractors to implement arrangements, which are commonplace across the industry, puts this reasonable expectation at risk.
“Our members are sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens on one of Europe’s biggest construction projects. We would urge Sellafield Ltd and the sub-contractors to start treating their workers as partners and enter meaningful talks.”