Prospect members, particularly those directly affected by the consultation on pensions, have a great opportunity to lobby candidates in the Copeland by-election on 23 February on this issue.
A majority of members affected by the proposals to change final salary pension schemes across the nuclear estate work for Sellafield Ltd. In turn, a majority of members working for Sellafield Ltd live in the Copeland parliamentary constituency.
There are other members covered by the consultation who do not work for Sellafield Ltd but who also live in this constituency (eg many employees of Low Level Waste Repository Ltd). In fact, the Copeland parliamentary constituency has the highest number of Prospect members of any UK parliamentary constituency.
Asking candidates to support our pledge
Prospect is writing to all candidates in the by-election to ask if they will support a pledge covering three key issues for Prospect members living in the constituency. The vast majority of Prospect members living in the constituency work in nuclear decommissioning so the pledge focuses on related issues.
What you can do
If canvassers call to your door, or if you speak to any other election worker, please ask whether their party's candidate has signed up to Prospect's pledge. Encourage friends and family members to do the same. The cumulative pressure from thousands of Prospect members will bring home the local importance of this issue.
The pledge asks for a commitment to:
- support new nuclear
- defend nuclear pensions
- exclude nuclear companies from exit payment cap
Support new nuclear
Prospect members living in the constituency have skills and experience relevant to new nuclear. The economic fortunes of the whole area depend greatly on the investment a new nuclear power station would bring. The next MP for Copeland must be a powerful and persuasive advocate for new nuclear in general and Moorside in particular.
Defend nuclear pensions
The NDA is consulting on changes to final salary pension schemes that are contrary to promises made in the past and pension protections enshrined in legislation. The NDA is also refusing to consider applying the precedent of the 2012 public sector pension reforms and making defined benefit pension schemes available to all employees across the NDA estate. The next MP for Copeland must stand up for nuclear decommissioning workers' pensions.
Exclude nuclear companies from exit payment cap
The Enterprise Act 2016 provides for regulations to cap redundancy compensation for employees of companies across the NDA estate. This issue is important in its own right but also because of the potential precedent it sets for government legislating to impose changes to the terms and conditions of employees of these companies. The next MP for Copeland must oppose the inclusion of employees of these companies from such measures.
The Prospect pledge
"I agree that new nuclear has a crucial role to play in supporting the UK’s future energy needs and I support proposals to develop a new nuclear power station at Moorside.
"I also agree that promises about pensions and redundancy compensation that were made when the electricity industry and nuclear decommissioning work were privatised should be honoured. I will vote against any proposals that involve reneging on those promises."
We'll add information about which candidates have and have not signed up to the pledge – watch this space.