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Electric workers occupy EDF Energy offices over plans to hire untrained workers

WORKERS across Britain occupied the offices of EDF energy today over its plan to hire untrained electricians to carry out work at Hinkley Point nuclear power station. 

The electricians have accused their bosses of “multi-skilling” at the site in Bridgwater, where the station is being built at an estimated cost of £22.5 billion.

An agreement to employ about 500 electrical apprentices has been reneged on, the workers said, and replaced with training courses for “support operatives.” 

The plan would mean that lower-paid unskilled workers will be employed instead of skilled electricians, they said.

Workers waved Unite flags at the offices in Glasgow and London today, but the union said the protest was not official Unite action. 

The National Shop Stewards Network attended the protests with their banners.

One worker said: “If the plan to carry out safety-critical electrical work without qualified electricians is implemented, there will be blockades of Hinckley Point nuclear power station.

“This will escalate to industrial action.”

An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “Hinkley Point C and its trades union partners have agreements in place to develop skills and training, including a commitment to create 1,000 new apprenticeships. 

“This progressive approach has been developed to maximise employment opportunities for local people and to help them develop new skills. It is backed by major investment in training facilities to help new entrants start their careers in construction. 

“Productive talks are now taking place to reach agreement on the curriculum of the new training courses.”

Last month, EDF Energy said that the planned opening of Hinkley Point C has been delayed by around six months, with costs likely to be £500 million more than previously thought.

EDF said that significant progress has been made on the site, but electricity generation is now expected to start in June 2026, not 2025, as previously estimated.

The coronavirus crisis led to a number of changes on the site, including a reduction in the number of workers to enable social distancing, concentrating on the most critical areas of construction.
 

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