A RESOLUTION to the long-standing dispute over proposed pension changes at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has finally been reached by the unions and staff.
The dispute centred on pledges made in the early 1990s by the then Conservative Government to AWE workers regarding the future of their pensions once they transferred to the private sector.
The unions claim that these promises had been broken as AWE bosses closed the defined benefit pension scheme on January 31.
Several protests and strike action ensued, with employees of the sites at Burghfield and Aldermaston claiming the alternative being offered would leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket.
The settlement offered by AWE comprises a pay offer of a three-year four per cent rise in basic pay, revised high hazard allowances and overtime rates for all staff.
This is to be backdated to June 1 this year and was agreed last week by Unite and Prospect union members.
Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said: “Basically, our members have voted to accept a substantial pay increase now, rather than continuing the pensions’ dispute indefinitely, which would not have been in the interests of all the parties involved. Given all the circumstances, this is the best possible deal available.
“It shows that if you stick together, you do get a decent deal in the end.”
When told of the successful agreement, North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse said: “AWE is the lynchpin of our ultimate national defence, a major employer in the area and a vital depository of atomic knowledge and research that keeps the UK at the cutting-edge of the global science.
“This is great news and I am pleased that AWE have made an offer that the highly-skilled scientists, engineers, safety and nuclear workers at the company can accept.”
Newbury MP Richard Benyon said: “AWE is a vital employer to the area and has attracted the brightest and best in the sector to work at Aldermaston.
“I know this has been a very difficult and worrying time for many of my constituents and I am relieved that it now appears to be drawing to a conclusion.”