EMPLOYEES at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston and Burghfield have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a row over pensions.
Union bosses said strike action had been taken after months of consultation and discussions over the new pension scheme.
Prospect, the main trade union representing employees at AWE, said 87 per cent of members who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action. The turnout was 68 per cent.
The unions are now urging management to hold urgent talks on the issue in a bid to avoid a walkout.
Prospect negotiator Richard Tabbner said: “This is an incredibly strong mandate for industrial action, which shows the strength of members’ resolve on this issue and the sense of injustice that they feel.”
He added: “Prospect members care deeply about AWE’s vital role in the UK’s national security and do not want to take action that could impact on the UK’s continuous at sea deterrent.
“But their hand has been forced by the circumstances of this dispute and the result of the ballot shows they are prepared to do so if necessary.”
AWE is contracted by the government to provide and maintain nuclear warheads and it is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
A spokesperson for the MoD said: “Safety and security of the AWE sites are our highest priority and measures are in place to ensure these would not be compromised in the event of industrial action.
"Changes to the AWE Pension Scheme are a matter for AWE plc to determine, as the employer.”
An AWE spokesperson said: “The Prospect and Unite trade unions had formally notified AWE of their intention to ballot members on industrial action over pensions.
"AWE continues to maintain a regular dialogue with its trade unions.
"Should strike action be undertaken, we can reassure the public that the company has in place procedures to ensure that the safety of our operations can be maintained at all times and we will continue to meet our regulatory requirements.”