Members of the trade unions Unite and GMB who are working on the construction of Hinkley Point, an EDF Energy-led nuclear power station, have voted in favour of a new pay deal.
The new pay offer, which will be applicable for over 1,000 construction employees, will see Hinkley Point staff receive pay levels that are 36% more than the minimum pay rates agreed by the Construction Industry and Joint Council, which represents the national agreement for the civil engineering sector, and demonstrates an increase in maximum gross earnings of around 2.9% compared to previous arrangements. The pay increase will incorporate a portion of previous bonus payments into employees’ basic rate of pay. This will mean that holiday pay, overtime rates and pension contributions will also rise.
A top skilled craft worker consistently working 48 hours a week would earn £45,000 a year before bonus and allowances under the new pay agreement.
Hinkley Point employees will also receive back pay for the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 May 2017. From May 2017, an interim bonus scheme was introduced to help mitigate potential industrial action. The interim bonus arrangements were effective from 1 June 2017 until August 2017, under a previously approved Civil Engineering Sector Agreement (CESA) which governs pay and conditions. Under the bonus scheme, working supervisors and craft grades were awarded £4 an hour, skilled worker grades received £3 an hour, and general workers were awarded £2 an hour.
The interim bonus scheme was introduced after Unite and GMB members voted to refuse a previously proposed bonus arrangement in May 2017. Unite and GMB argued that the bonus rate put forward by contractor Bylor, which is a consortium of French organisation Bouygues TP and construction business Laing O’Rourke, was insufficient to attract the quality of staff needed to ensure that that the civil works phase of the £18 billion construction project was completed on time.
The final agreed pay offer, proposed by EDF Energy and Bylor, replaces a pay deal that was rejected by Unite and GMB members last month.
Nigel Cann, Hinkley Point C programme and construction delivery director at EDF Energy, said: “Following lengthy negotiations with employers and the trade unions, we are very pleased that the union members have voted to accept our offer. We are proud that our [civil] workforce will now benefit from a reward package which is both ‘best in class’ and affordable. We have created great facilities at Hinkley Point C and offer all our [employees] an opportunity to personally grow and develop.
“We share a commitment with the trade unions and our contract partners to provide the best standards in health, safety and welfare, in tandem with the highest standards of quality and productivity as we work together to deliver this vital project.”
Peter Hughes, regional secretary at Unite, said: “This is a landmark agreement which will now set the benchmark for pay rates on flagship construction projects throughout the UK. The pay rates agreed at Hinkley Point will provide a significant boost to the local economy and together with the ambitious apprenticeship programme on the project, will generate much needed skills boost and investment in the south west region. The determination of EDF to broker a deal was critical in ensuring the pay negotiations were satisfactorily resolved.”
Phil Whitehurst, national officer at GMB, added: “GMB members have voted, in a very positive and responsible manner, to accept EDF’s final offer. The employers side in the negotiation should have declared their hand way before January 2017, but chose to take it to the wire. This could have resulted in a trade dispute which would have had devastating consequences to this prestigious project. Let’s now hope that an open and transparent relationship will precipitate from this on the civil construction phase of [Hinkley Point].”