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Sellafield firefighters to strike after pay talks break down

GMB members have voted two to one in favour of a series of 24-hour strikes.

Firefighters at the Sellafield nuclear site are to go on strike for the first time later this month after last ditch talks over pay broke down.

The GMB union said a meeting with the management of the facility in Cumbria aimed at resolving a long-running row lasted just 30 minutes.

Union leaders will meet on Friday to decide the date of the first strike, which will be held later this month.

Sellafield said it had already entered into commercial arrangements with a third party to make sure safety is maintained during industrial action.

GMB members have voted two to one in favour of a series of 24-hour strikes in a dispute over pay grading, which has been going on for several years, during which time the GMB says firefighters have been performing roles above and beyond what they are paid to do, such as paramedic work.

Chris Jukes, GMB senior organiser, said: “The fact that it has taken several years to get to the point where firefighters will now strike confirms this is a measure of last resort.

“GMB members have been more than patient in trying to achieve the financial recognition they deserve.

“Members are so angry they have given a mandate for the earliest possible strike date later this month, the first time ever that Sellafield’s highly trained firefighter service have gone on strike. The Sellafield strike committee will decide tomorrow the date for the first strike.

“GMB remains available to meet Sellafield Management with a view to a fair resolution.”

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The Sellafield site in Cumbria. (Sellafield Ltd/PA)

A company statement said: “Regrettably the GMB has rejected our offer of an additional task-based payment equivalent to a 5% increase in basic pay for our firefighters (which is contingent on undertaking extra training and skills). They have made a formal claim for an increase of around 12%.

“Our firefighters are currently paid £43,007, inclusive of shift allowance, for working the equivalent of 37 hours a week. Civil firefighters around the UK, are paid £29,638, for a 42 hour week, with no extra pay for shifts.

“The company awaits a formal response from GMB. Safety and security of the site is and will always remain our over-riding priority.

“We have already entered into commercial arrangements with a third party to ensure that safety is maintained and that the public, workforce and environment are protected at all times.”

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