More than 3,000 engineering construction workers are ready to go on strike after rejecting a pay offer from their employers.
The workers, who carry out repair and maintenance work at major UK oil refineries, power stations, pharmaceutical and petrochemical plants, voted by 86 per cent to turn down a pay rise of 10 per cent for 2024 and five per cent for 2025.
Workers at Drax, Sellafield, Stanlow, Pembroke, Grangemouth, Teesside Sabic TIP and Runcorn Project Summer Vynova have already voted for strike action.
However, none taking industrial action at Sellafield are said to be among its directly employed workforce, according to a Sellafield spokesperson.
Since the pandemic, pay for engineering construction workers has fallen by 20 per cent in real terms, according to Unite the Union.
During Covid, a pay freeze was imposed on the workers, who operate under the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), even though they provided essential services throughout the crisis.
Then, in January 2022, they received a two-year pay deal of 2.5 per cent and the same percentage increase for 2023, amid soaring inflation.
Due to the response, Unite said it is also preparing to ballot more workers at other sites across the country.
“NAECI workers have seen their pay fall further and further behind in real terms as a result of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham.
“Meanwhile, most NAECI employers have benefited from huge profits generated from rocketing energy and fuel prices.
“NAECI contractors and clients can fully afford to put forward a better offer and this is what must happen.”
Unite national officer, Jason Poulter, added: “There is a limited window of opportunity for NAECI contractors and clients to avoid widespread industrial unrest.
“They have the money to ensure that our members’ rates are restored to their previous value.
“Their latest offer was inadequate and was overwhelmingly rejected by our members.
“They need to get back into negotiations and work with us to find an acceptable offer.”
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