In a ballot, Prospect members voted 94% in favour of industrial action short of a strike, based on a 72% turnout. Ballots of members in Unite and Unison produced comparable results.
Talks last with all three unions reached an impasse when the company refused to up its pay offer. It is offering 2.5% from 1 July 2010 and 2.25% from 1 July 2011. The company's only 'concession' was to drop a third year of the offer (of 2.25% from 1 July 2012).
"Members are dismayed by the company's intransigence," said Prospect National Secretary Emily Boase. "The current offer represents only half the inflation rate - with the risk of a sharp rise in inflation to come. Yet in the past National Grid has linked its pay deals to inflation.
"Business is booming for National Grid - 2010 saw a 45% pre-tax increase in half-yearly profits, after a 12% increase in full-year profits and an 8% dividend payment to shareholders. Workers should not be penalised in this way, when directors and shareholders are doing so well. Even more galling is that prices charged by the company are directly tied to RPI inflation.
"National Grid can afford more and should think again before this action begins."
Workers will implement an overtime ban and work to contract from January 28. National Grid is a 24/7 operation, relying heavily on overtime and goodwill. The control rooms in both gas and electricity rely on overtime to cover sickness and staff shortages. Members would, however, respond to emergencies and take steps to protect vulnerable people.
Prospect has 1,050 members in National Grid, including grid systems engineers, field engineers, gas operations engineers, office-based development engineers and managers working with new connections.