Hinkley Point construction may be delayed
GMB has warned that construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station could be slowed if a row over bonus payments escalates into industrial action.
The controversial power station, the construction of which is estimated to cost £18 billion, is dealing with a dispute due to the failure of the BYLOR consortium, made up of the French company Bouygues TP and Laing O’Rourke, to pay the bonus rate predicated in the HPC Civil Construction agreement. Unions argue that the bonus rate offered by BYLOR is insufficient to attract the quality of workers needed to ensure that the civil works phase of the project is completed on schedule.
GMB, along with sister union Unite, will be holding a consultative ballot of the 700-strong workforce preparing groundwork at the Somerset site, which will run from the 2nd to the 5th of May.
Adie Baker, GMB regional officer, said: “GMB members are not prepared to accept this derisory offer on bonus payments that also threatens health and safety standards on site.”
Rob Miguel, Chair of the HPC joint union committee, said: “The Hinkley Point nuclear power station is key to the future energy needs of the UK.
"The project has already suffered delays and to achieve the 2025 start date for electricity generation a skilled construction workforce is required.
“If the consultative ballot eventually leads to full-scale industrial action ballot, we could be looking at delays to the construction at Hinkley Point, which will be very expensive for the employers as hired-in plant and machinery will be lying idle.
“The scheme has already been plagued by delays over its financing and can’t afford any further interruptions.
“We would urge the employers to get back around the table with senior union officials to achieve a fair settlement in line the agreement already in place, so building can continue on schedule.”
Tim Morris, Unite regional officer, said: “This poor offer is unacceptable under all of the circumstances and our members came to Hinkley Point under the belief that they would receive excellent pay and bonuses.
"The employers think they can do this ‘on the cheap’ by offering a derisory bonus rate, but the workers consider it to be completely inadequate to attract and hold onto the skilled workforce necessary.
"Hinkley Point is being built by the French energy company EDF, with a stake from Chinese state owned investor CGN.
"When Theresa May became Prime Minister last July she pressed the ‘pause’ button on the project, but the go-ahead was eventually given in September."
Read the April 2017 edition of Energy Digital magazine
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.