Selective Strikes, Work-To-Rule KOs EDF In UK

UnknownBy Dick Blin
For the Utility Workers Of America

Unite the Union and 500 meter fitters and meter engineers won respect and handsome pay gains in a highly coordinated campaign that forced big French energy company EDF to ante up at the table. The French energy giant also operates more than 100 renewable energy plants in the U.S., plus a 49% stake in three nuclear plants in Maryland and New York.

From May to July this year, unionized staff at over 20 worksites across the southern part of Great Britain, including London, used escalating and rolling strikes, as well as job-protected actions short of striking to secure adequate backdated 2013 pay gains.

The agreement also holds EDF accountable over changes to the 2012 collective agreement, changes meant to bridge the pay differential gap between southeast utility workers and those in London. EDF had been ducking that issue.

The workers install and repair meters, and they are front-line EDF theft detection employees. In city after city – from Plymouth to Bristol to Exeter to Bexleyheath in Kent (and London) – they received sympathy and support from the public due to EDF’s inflation-beating electric rate hikes.

The company’s early summer pay offer, however, fell far short of inflation. EDF sought a consolidated 2013-14 pay offer of 2% plus a miniscule £20 one-off payment to each worker. The company’s rejected offer also would have short changed staff of the eastern revenue protection team.

Following the job actions, EDF increased the offer significantly and a mediated resolve came in early August. The 2% increase becomes retroactive to April 2013.

The one-off payment was increased to £480 per worker, and EDF agreed to begin bargaining on a 2014 pay deal immediately. A vastly improved deal was also given the eastern revenue team that means full earnings count as salary, and not a proportion of “additional payments.”

A Unite the Union representative said the disciplined job actions translate to a wake-up call for EDF, one that most definitely will extend into 2014 talks.

See Unite’s ‘Great Pay Victory’ article here.

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