The UK “could face power cuts” later this month after workers at a major site voted to strike in an ongoing dispute over pay. More than 180 workers, who are members of Unite union and employed at Drax power station in Yorkshire, voted for industrial action after rejecting an eight per cent pay increase.
Unite said the offer is a “substantial real terms pay cut” with the current inflation rate (RPI) standing at 13.4 per cent. When Drax is fully operational, the Selby station generates seven per cent of the UK’ electricity, but union claims the strike action will close it down.
However, Drax said it had “robust plans in place” to keep electricity running for homes and businesses should the strike action take place. The firm added it was “deeply disappointed” that Unite was planning to go ahead with the strikes, as staff had been offered a “substantial” pay rise.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a classic case of greed by a company which is already generating eye-watering profits. Drax is cynically seeking to boost its bonanza profits further by forcing workers to take a real terms pay cut.
“Unite is now totally focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Drax will be receiving the union’s complete support.” The union said that workers were “particularly incensed” that the company is trying to force through a real term pay cut at a time when it is “making huge profits” due to an increase in the cost of electricity.
According to Unite, Drax is estimated to generate profits in excess of £680 million for 2022, an increase of well over 50 per cent on the year before. Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “The strike action at Drax will inevitably cause considerable strain on the national grid but this dispute is completely of the company’s own making.
“Drax has had every opportunity to make our members a fair offer, but it has repeatedly failed to do so.”
A Drax spokesperson said: “In the event of industrial action, Drax has robust plans in place to ensure the power station continues to safely generate renewable electricity for millions of homes and businesses. We have put forward a generous full and final pay settlement which rewards our valued colleagues with a significant pay rise worth 10% and a £2,000 lump sum.
“We are deeply disappointed that Unite is planning to go forward with this unnecessary action which will see colleagues lose money instead of securing a significant pay rise. Drax remains open to dialogue with Unite to avoid industrial action. There are three trade unions representing colleagues at Drax Power Station and this offer has been accepted by Prospect, while GMB has stated it will not be taking industrial action.”
When will power station strikes take place?
Unite has announced an initial nine days of strike action which is set to take place on the following days:
- Monday, February 20
- Monday, February 27
- Monday, March 6
- Monday, March 13
- Monday, March 20
- Monday, March 27
- Tuesday, April 4
- Monday, April 10
- Monday, April 17