Drax is facing the prospect of a workforce vote for its first ever strike, over allegations of ‘bad faith’ surrounding more than 200 compulsory redundancies.
Unite said yesterday it intended to ballot members this month in defence of the jobs. They are scheduled to disappear next March, as the plant slims its 600-strong workforce in line with closure of the Yorkshire plant’s last two coal-fired turbines.
The union claims Drax’s management have backtracked on a pledge, made during pay talks last year, not to impose compulsory job losses.
“The members have rejected the revised offer by an 84 per cent majority and voted to proceed to an industrial action ballot,” said Shane Sweeting, Unite’s regional officer.
Unite members had offered to forego bonuses and pay rises to protect the posts, Sweeting claimed, but the offer had been rejected by Drax. Natural wastage of staff through retirement and departures would have saved £25 million a year, he stated, a small cost against Drax’s “£415 million profits in 2019”. (In the year to December 2019 Drax Group plc posted adjusted Ebitda of £409.8m.)
In response a Drax spokesperson denied the company had ever pledged compulsory redundancies could be avoided.
“We continue to work closely with the trade unions to agree the enhanced redundancy terms linked to the 206 roles which will be made redundant when Drax stops using coal next year.
“The majority of GMB and Prospect union members who voted in a consultative ballot accepted the enhanced redundancy terms.
“Regrettably, a majority of Unite members who voted confirmed their support for industrial action in the consultative ballot”.