Belfast Telegraph

Nuclear weapons firm staff vote for strike action in pensions row

Workers at a nuclear weapons firm have voted to go on strike in a row over pensions.

Members both the Prospect and Unite unions at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) have decided to launch a campaign of industrial action over plans to close their defined benefit pension scheme.

They have appealed to management to hold urgent talks on the issue in a bid to avoid a walkout.

The Unite members voted by 92% for strike action and by 97% for industrial action short of a strike, while those in Prospect voted by 87% of members in favour of strike action, with 94% backing action short of a strike.

Members have claimed they are being offered an "inferior" alternative when the current scheme closes at the end of the year.

Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said: "It is a disgrace that the UK Government, which is constantly harking on about the importance of the Trident programme, is not prepared to resolve this matter.

"The reason given for the proposed closure is that there is a pension deficit, but Unite has argued that, following members increasing their contributions, there has not been an opportunity to establish whether this increase will start to reduce the deficit. It is our view that it will."

Prospect negotiator Richard Tabbner said: "Prospect members care deeply about AWE's vital role in the UK's national security and do not want to take action that could impact on the UK's continuous at sea deterrent.

"But their hand has been forced by the circumstances of this dispute and the result of the ballot shows they are prepared to do so if necessary."