The resolution of the long running industrial dispute at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston near Tadley comes after local MPs Richard Benyon and Kit Malthouse made strenuous efforts on behalf of the workers over the closure of the former defined benefit pension scheme.
Following several meetings with Unite and Prospect members, the MPs have relentlessly pressed government ministers and officials at the Ministry of Defence, including Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, in multiple meetings and by letter, with Kit Malthouse even raising the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, calling on the Government to keep promises made during privatisation to people who had “devoted their entire working lives tending our nuclear defence”.
The comprehensive settlement offered by AWE after negotiations comprises a pay offer of a 3-year 4% rise in basic pay, revised High Hazard Allowances and overtime rates for all staff. This was agreed to last week by Unite members. Prospect members agreed to a settlement in a ballot in February. The agreement will now be implemented.
When told of the successful agreement, Mr Malthouse said: “AWE is the lynch pin 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.”
Richard Benyon MP added: “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.”
The Aldermaston facility itself lies within Richard Benyon MP’s Newbury constituency, while many of the staff at AWE live within the North West Hampshire constituency represented by Kit Malthouse MP. AWE is responsible for the design, manufacture and support of warheads for the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent and carries out testing, research and nuclear decommissioning work. It has been in private management since 1993 and with the current consortium since 2000. All the sites however are owned by the UK Government who also hold a golden share in AWE plc.