Sizewell: Lowest paid workers at nuclear power plant step up fight to be paid ‘living wage’ of £7.65 per hour

Sizewell C artist's impression

Sizewell C artist's impression - Credit: Archant

Union officials say they are confident that talks involving EDF and an American sub-contracting company will result in a section of the Sizewell B workforce achieving the so-called “living wage”.

While the public perception is that everyone who works at the power station is well paid, some catering staff earn little more than the regulatory minimum wage and are subject to a “zero hours” employment contract.

The regulatory minimum wage outside London is currently £6.31 an hour compared with the “living wage” of £7.65 outside London.

The Suffolk People’s Assembly, which has links to the Living Wage Foundation, a national movement against what it regards as “austerity wages”, has presented a 2,000-signature petition to EDF calling for the company to commit to ensuring its employees at Sizewell B and those of contractors are paid a living wage rather than a minimum wage.

Declan Foy, Sizewell power site secretary for the Unite trade union, said about 600 staff had also given their support to their low-paid colleagues.

Mr Foy said agreement had been reached for the “living wage” to be paid to sub-contracted catering staff at the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant in Somerset and he remained confident that talks, which have now extended over a period of seven months, will eventually succeed.

Dr Robert MacGibbon, a retired GP who lives at Westleton and is deputy chairman of Leiston and District Labour Party, claimed the sub-contractor concerned at Sizewell B, Aramark, paid “very minimal” wages.

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Labour Parliamentary candidate for the Suffolk Coastal constituency Russell Whiting helped collect hundreds of signatures for the petition on the streets of Leiston, where he said campaigners had found great support for the workers.

He said: “The whole community is calling for the living wage to be introduced by Aramark at Sizewell. It’s time Aramark and EDF listened and contribute to the better Suffolk we all want to see.”

EDF Energy said while health and safety conditions could be imposed on sub-contractors, it could not intervene in wage settlements.

Even so, Martin Cubitt, Sizewell B technical and safety manager, said he was hopeful that talks would have a positive outcome.

An Aramark spokesman said: “Aramark are not able to discuss publicly the employment terms and conditions of colleagues.”