UK could face ‘blackouts’ in weeks as Drax power station sannounce strikes over pay

Members of the Unite union have rejected an offer of an 8% pay increase

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The UK could face possible blackouts in the coming weeks as Drax power station workers announce a series of strikes, a union has warned.

More than 180 workers employed at the station in Yorkshire plan to walkout over nine days in February, March and April in a dispute over pay.

The workers, who are members of the UK’s leading union Unite, have rejected an offer of an 8% pay increase after branding it a substantial real terms pay cut, with the current inflation rate (RPI) standing at 13.4%.

When Drax is fully operational it generates 7% of the UK’s electricity and the strike action will close the power station down. Unite warned that the strike action later this month could lead to potential power cuts later this month as workers walk out - a claim Drax has den

Drax power station workers have announced a series of strikes (Photo: Getty Images)Drax power station workers have announced a series of strikes (Photo: Getty Images)
Drax power station workers have announced a series of strikes (Photo: Getty Images)

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a classic case of greed by a company which is already generating eye-watering profits. Drax is cynically seeking to boost its bonanza profits further by forcing workers to take a real terms pay cut.

“Unite is now totally focussed on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and the workers at Drax will be receiving the union’s complete support.”

Unite has announced an initial nine days of strike action with strikes taking place on the following dates:

  • 20 February
  • 27 February
  • 6 March
  • 13 March
  • 20 March
  • 27 March 
  • 4 April
  • 10 April
  • 17 April

The Union said workers are particularly incensed that the company is trying to force through a real terms pay cut at a time when it is making huge profits due to the increase in the cost of electricity.

Drax is estimated to generate profits in excess of £680 million for 2022 - an increase of well over 50% on the previous year.

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “The strike action at Drax will inevitably cause considerable strain on the national grid but this dispute is completely of the company’s own making. Drax has had every opportunity to make our members a fair offer, but it has repeatedly failed to do so.”

Responding to the strike announcement, Drax dissmised the suggestion from Unite that the UK could face power cuts and said it has “robust plans in place” to ensure the power station continues to generate electricity.

A spokesperson said: “In the event of industrial action, Drax has robust plans in place to ensure the power station continues to safely generate renewable electricity for millions of homes and businesses. We have put forward a generous full and final pay settlement which rewards our valued colleagues with a significant pay rise worth 10% and a £2,000 lump sum.

“We are deeply disappointed that Unite is planning to go forward with this unnecessary action which will see colleagues lose money instead of securing a significant pay rise. Drax remains open to dialogue with Unite to avoid industrial action.

“There are three trade unions representing colleagues at Drax Power Station and this offer has been accepted by Prospect, while GMB has stated it will not be taking industrial action.”

A government spokesperson said: “Potential strike action at Drax power station will not lead to power cuts. The UK has a secure and diverse energy system, and we are confident in our plans to protect households and businesses, including vulnerable households, in all scenarios this winter.”