Members of the Unite union have carried out a series of strikes at AWE due to the company’s decision to end a defined benefit pension scheme. The strike action began in November last year with two 24 hour strikes after members voted 92% in favour of industrial action.
The union, which has 600 members working at AWE, held two 48 hour strikes in January and announced a further series of 24 hour strikes in March that are due to run until May. In January members of the Prospect union who had also been in dispute voted to accept a deal which increased AWE’s contribution to pensions from 9% to 13%, but did not return the scheme to a definted benefit system.
Unite claim that when AWE was privatised in the 1990s ministers promised that workers' pensions would not be changed.
In a statement AWE said it had made contingency plans and had measures in place to ensure staff and the general public remained safe during the strikes.
Update: On the 25th April Unite announced a further two days of strikes, on May 10th and May 18th, in response to AWE failing to acknowledge pensions proposals submitted by the union. In a statement to the Reading Chronicle, Bob Middleton, Unite regional officer, said:
“We have not received a response, or even an acknowledgement, to the pension proposals we sent to the AWE management on April 13. We put forward these proposals in good faith, but our members feel that they have now been snubbed.
“It is quite clear that this pledge has been shattered and our members feel deeply betrayed. The hallmark of this dispute is a litany of broken promises. We have decided to strike on 10 May as AWE is planning to stage the regulatory site exercise on this day. It is for the AWE to say what contingencies it has in place to take account of the fact that our members, who would have been central to the successful completion of this exercise, will be on strike on May 10.”