Drax power plant workers to strike nine times in three months
Workers at one of Britain’s biggest power plants are preparing to go on strike nine times over the next three months in a dispute over pay.
More than 180 staff at the Drax plant near Selby, in North Yorkshire, plan to strike in February, March and April after rejecting a proposed pay deal.
Unite union has accused Drax of “classic corporate greed”, citing an increase in its profits, which jumped to £200m in the first half of its financial year, up from £52m in the same period a year earlier, helped by high electricity prices.
Unite said it had rejected an 8% pay rise and noted that the retail prices index (RPI) inflation rate was 13.4% in December.
The 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 focused on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Drax will be receiving the union’s complete support.”
Unite claimed strike action would shut down Drax – which supplies about 6% of Great Britain’s power at times – and cause power cuts. The company refuted this claim and said it had “robust plans in place to ensure the power station continues to safely generate renewable electricity for millions of homes and businesses” in the event of industrial action.
A Drax spokesperson said: “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.”
Drax, which has faced criticism over its use of biomass, said it had offered employees £2,000 each in recognition of their work extending the life of two coal units until March 2023. The units have been kept on standby at the request of National Grid.
The strikes at Drax are due to take place on 20 and 27 February; 6, 13, 20 and 27 March; and 4, 10 and 17 April.
The dispute echoes a standoff at UK Power Networks (UKPN), which supplies power to London and the south-east of England. Unite said on Monday said that 1,300 workers at the company would be balloted for strike action as they were unhappy with a pay rise of 7% for the current financial year.
Unite has previously accused UKPN and other networks of “rampant profiteering”.