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NDA £660million Pension Strike Ballot on Hold

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

 

We hope the meeting with the Minister this morning has opened up the possibility of genuine negotiations to take place for the first time says GMB GMB, Unite and ASLEF.

Unions representing workers in the nuclear sector, delayed announcement of strike ballot after urgent talks today, 25 January 2015, resulted in an agreement that further urgent talks will take place over £660m broken promises nuclear pensions dispute.

The Unions met in London this morning with Jesse Norman, Energy and Industrial Strategy Minister to try and resolve this dispute over changes to nuclear workers’ legally protected pension benefits.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is starting a process of statutory consultation about proposed Government cuts to final salary pension benefits across the NDA estate from 9 January 2017 until Friday 10 March 2017.

16,000 workers will be affected working for Sellafied (Cumbria), Magnox (Anglesey, Ayrshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwynedd, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Suffolk), Direct Rail Services (Cumbria), Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (Caithness), Low Level Waste Repository (Cumbria) and International Nuclear Services (Cumbria, Warrington) [See notes to editors for a list of companies, sites and locations].

Government’s expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate will have been reformed by April 2018.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for the Nuclear Sector, said:

"GMB has delayed announcing the start of the strike ballot process following constructive talks with the Minister in which we impressed upon him the urgency of the situation.

"Whilst we are not out of the woods yet by any means, and this issue will continue to dominate the Copeland by-election, the meeting has opened up the possibility of genuine negotiations to take place for the first time around the £660m broken promises nuclear pensions dispute.

“The talks will start immediately and the unions will meet again with the Minister within the next fortnight.

“Since the days of the cold war, the deal for nuclear local communities has been that in exchange for the high risks associated with nuclear energy production and nuclear waste reprocessing these isolated communities had stable job opportunities, on decent terms and conditions and with secure pensions when production ceased.

"What is still proposed is a government betrayal of nuclear workers and their communities that calls into question that accord, with massive potential implications.”

Kevin Coyne, Unite National Officer for Energy said:

 “We had a frank and wide-ranging meeting with the energy minister Jesse Norman today.

"More talks will be held to discuss further options relating to the pensions of our members working for the NDA, with a deadline for a conclusion of those negotiations in a fortnight’s time.

“We hope that a constructive settlement can be reached that will ensure that the pensions, which our members have saved for so hard over many years, receive adequate protections underpinned by copper-bottomed guarantees.

"At this stage, industrial action can be seen as a last resort.”

Colin Smith, North-West district organiser for ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said:

“ASLEF welcomes new, urgent talks to address this vicious, premeditated and completely unprovoked attack on the pensions of nuclear workers, their families and communities.

"Reneging without embarrassment on pledges made by another Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, when the electricity industry was privatised in the 1990s can only end in confrontation.

“The politicians offered a social contract - in exchange for the risks associated with producing and reprocessing nuclear energy, which nobody really wants next door, nuclear communities had stable jobs, with proper terms and conditions, and secure pensions.”

Ends

Contact: Justin Bowden: 07710 631 351; GMB press office: 07958 156846 or press.office@gmb.org.uk; Kevin Coyne on 07798 531006 or Unite Press office on Shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org; Colin Smith on 07977 142460 Notes to editors:

1) GMB Press release 9 January 2016

GMB TO BALLOT FOR STRIKE ACTION OVER £660M BROKEN PROMISES PENSION CUTS FOR 16,000 NUCLEAR WORKERS

Nuclear workers have played their part in keeping the lights on for decade - If this government is determined to break its promises and is not prepared to negotiate, there is no alternative but to ballot members to take strike action says GMB. Senior representatives of GMB, the union for nuclear workers, met in London today, Monday 9 January 2017, and agreed to organise a strike ballot of members over £660m broken promises pension cuts for 16,000 nuclear workers. The unions issued a joint statement following the meeting which is set out below. [See notes to editors for previous press release on the dispute]. 16,000 workers will be affected working for Sellafied (Cumbria), Magnox (Anglesey, Ayrshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwynedd, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Suffolk), Direct Rail Services (Cumbria), Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (Caithness), Low Level Waste Repository (Cumbria) and International Nuclear Services (Cumbria, Warrington). [See notes to editors for a list of companies, sites and locations] Government’s expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA estate will have been reformed by April 2018. The strike committee will draw up the timetable for the ballot with the first strike day expected in February or March. GMB, Prospect, Unite, ASLEF/TSSA unions issued a joint statement after the meeting: “The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) gave as its justification for launching a formal consultation on reform of the pensions of nuclear workers covered by statutory pension protection that 'The Government’s aim is to make public sector pensions fair and to put them on an affordable and sustainable footing'. "It further stated that '….final salary pension schemes across the NDA estate are within the scope of public sector pension reform'. "These statements are misleading and deeply flawed. The pension schemes concerned are not public sector pension schemes and were not within the scope of public sector pension reform. "They were not included in the terms of reference of the Hutton review of public sector pensions and they were not covered by the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. "The scheme members affected by this consultation were previously removed from public sector pension schemes. "At that time statutory protections against detrimental pension changes were granted to ensure the privatisation/contractorisation process was a success. "These proposed reforms ride roughshod over those protections. Pension costs across the NDA estate are falling and are projected to continue to fall over the long-term both in terms of the schemes subject to this consultation and overall. "Pension provision is already on an 'affordable and sustainable footing. "The trade unions are united in their efforts to oppose these unnecessary and unjustified attacks on our members’ pensions. "We resolve to oppose the imposition of any detrimental changes. "In particular we resolve to: - Respond robustly to the consultation; - Correct the misrepresentation of the position by the NDA and the government; - Campaign and oppose the proposals politically (including in the anticipated upcoming by-election in Copeland); - Examine using the legal process to oppose the imposition of any detrimental changes; - Each union will consider and develop plans for industrial action.” Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for the Nuclear Sector, said: “Nuclear workers have played their part in keeping the country's lights on for decades. "Senior representatives were unanimous that if this government is determined to break its promises and is not prepared to negotiate, there is no alternative but to ballot members to take strike action. "GMB remains committed to resolving these issues amicably and available for meaningful talks should the government want to pull back from this shocking episode of broken promises to workers in the nuclear industry." Contact: Justin Bowden: 07710 631 351; GMB press office: 07958 156846 or press.office@gmb.org.uk

2) GMB Press release 5 January 2016

GMB, UNITE, PROSPECT AND ASLEF NUCLEAR INDUSTRY UNIONS MEETING ON MONDAY 9TH JANUARY TO CONSIDER STRIKE ACTION OVER £660M BROKEN PROMISES PENSIONS CUTS FOR 16,000 WORKERS

There is no justification for this attack on the pensions of these nuclear workers and their communities, these pension funds are in a sound state say GMB, Unite, Prospect and Aslef GMB, Prospect, Unite and ASLEF/TSSA Unions representing workers in the nuclear sector are to meet in London on Monday 9th January over £660 million cuts to 16,000 nuclear workers' pensions across 19 sites across the UK. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is starting a process of statutory consultation about proposed Government cuts to final salary pension benefits across the NDA estate from 9 January 2017 until Friday 10 March 2017. The meeting will take place at GMB Offices, Euston, at 11am on Monday 9th January and will involve senior nuclear trade union representatives from all over the country to discuss what action is required. 16,000 workers will be affected working for Sellafied (Cumbria), Magnox (Anglesey, Ayrshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwynedd, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Suffolk), Direct Rail Services (Cumbria), Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (Caithness), Low Level Waste Repository (Cumbria) and International Nuclear Services (Cumbria, Warrington). [See notes to editors for a list of companies, sites and locations.] Government’s expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA estate will have been reformed by April 2018. Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for the Nuclear Sector, said: “There is no justification for this attack on the pensions of these nuclear workers and their communities. These pension funds are in a sound state and underwent considerable reform 10 years ago. What the government are saying is that the privatised Site License Companies who run these nuclear facilities are in fact public sector organisations and therefore Sellafield, Dounreay and the Magnox Sites should go through the same reforms as the rest of the public sector itself. This is a point blank betrayal of the promises made by Margaret Thatcher to nuclear communities when the electricity industry was privatised in the 1990's and the public sector-like pension being proposed would make it by far the worst across the public sector.” Kevin Coyne, Unite National Officer, said: “We are urging all our members working for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to resist this proposed Treasury-led ‘raid’ on their pensions – if it is allowed to go-ahead thousands of workers will see their retirement incomes slashed by thousands of pounds. It is blatantly clear that the NDA is the stalking horse for the government is which hell-bent in saving £660 million over the period of decommissioning. This assault on our members’ pensions is made all the more sour by the fact that the scheme is not in deficit. The NDA is the monkey to the government’s organ grinder in this sordid and unnecessary sleight of hand. Our members have already made big sacrifices since the last pension changes were imposed in 2008 – and enough is enough. Our members will be prepared to take determined industrial action to defend their hard-earned retirement incomes.” Dai Hudd, Prospect Deputy General Secretary, said: “Prospect members are some of the most highly skilled workers in the UK, indeed some number amongst the highest skilled engineers and scientists working in this field in the world. They commit to the development of ground breaking solutions to tackle one of human kinds greatest long term challenges. There can be no justification for these cuts to the future pensions of these workers. The magnitude of the future cuts are in the order of £600m. There was a justified, public and political outcry when Phillip Green is accused of taking a similar figure of £580m from the pension fund of BHS, there should be no different reaction to this Treasury inspired raid, on a scheme that is not in the public sector. The consultation, such that it is, inspires little confidence of our members. We will oppose detrimental changes to their terms, legally, politically and if necessary industrially. The forthcoming Copeland By-Election will be a key battle for these issues.” Colin Smith, north-west district organiser for ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said: "ASLEF will not stand by and be told that the pensions that we have secured through fair and equitable negotiations will be downgraded by a dogmatic approach via the Government decision to carry out their ideology in attacking the Final Salary Pension scheme of our members."

3) List of sites and depots:

Sellafield, Seascale, Cumbria CA20 1PG

Magnox: Berkeley Site Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9PA

Bradwell Site Bradwell on Sea Southminster, Essex, CM0 7HP

Chapelcross Site Annan, Dumfriesshire, DG12 6RF

Dungeness A Site Romney Marsh, Kent, N29 9PP

Harwell Site Harwell Campus, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0DF

Hinkley Point A Site Nr Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 1YA

Hunterston A Site West Kilbride, Ayrshire, KA23 9RA

Oldbury Site Oldbury Naite, Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, BS35 1RQ

Sizewell A Site Nr Leiston, Suffolk, IP16 4UE

Trawsfynydd Site Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, LL41 4DT

Winfrith Site Winfrith Newburgh Dorchester Dorset DT2 8WG

Wylfa Site Cemaes, Ynys Môn, LL67 0DH DRS

Direct Rail Services Head Office Regents Court Baron Way Carlisle Cumbria CA6 4SJ DSRL

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, KW14 7TZ LLWR

Low Level Waste Repository Holmrook Cumbria CA19 1XP

Pelham House Pelham Drive Seascale Cumbria CA20 1DB

INS International Nuclear Services Hinton House, Birchwood Park Avenue, Risley, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 6GR

Herdus House, Westlakes Science & Technology Park, Moor Row, Cumbria, CA24 3HU

4) The table below shows the active final salary and defined contribution members in the CNPP and Magnox Electric Group of the ESPS (MEG ESPS) as at 31 March 2016 by Section 

 

Active final salary members (15/16 DB Contributions)

Active defined contribution members

MEG ESPS

1,793

N/A

CNPP

 

 

Magnox

488

662

LLW Repository

87

135

Sellafield

7,060

3,303

DSRL

640

449

GPS SLC

478

44

(mostly Sellafield members)

(all INS)

Direct Rail Services

189

244

 

 

 

Total

10,735

4,837


5) The Government began the process of reforming pensions across the public sector in 2011. Since then it has transferred the vast majority of public sector employees (around 4 million workers) from final salary based schemes to new Career Average Earnings based pension arrangements.

6) Options being considered include Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) and a Pensionable Pay Cap. Under CARE, benefits at retirement are based on average earnings over career and length of membership of the scheme. If implemented this would take effect from 1 April 2018. A Pensionable Pay Cap would mean only a certain percentage of any salary increases would be included in the calculation of pensionable pay. If implemented this would take effect from 1 April 2017


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