LONDON Jan 12 Workers at Britain's Atomic
Weapons Establishment (AWE), which provides and maintains the
country's nuclear warheads, will stage two 48-hour strikes in
coming weeks in a dispute over their pensions, the Unite labour
union said on Thursday.
AWE, which is jointly owned by U.S. firms Jacobs Engineering
Group and Lockheed Martin and British support services group
Serco, supports Trident, Britain's submarine-based nuclear
deterrent programme, under contract to the Ministry of Defence.
Unite said 600 of its members who are AWE employees at the
two main facilities at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire,
southeast England, would walk out for 48 hours, starting on Jan.
18 and on Jan. 30.
AWE has about 4,500 staff and 4,500 contractors in total
working across all its sites.
"Unite members feel 'deeply betrayed' as promises made a
quarter of a century ago guaranteeing their pensions, when they
were transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the private
sector, have been broken," the union said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for AWE said the company would respond later.
Unite said AWE management planned to close a defined benefit
pension scheme on Jan. 31 and replace it with a defined
contribution one in which final retirement income is not
"The most just course of action would be for the pension
scheme to be taken back by the MoD (Ministry of Defence)," said
Unite regional officer Bob Middleton.
A spokesman for the MoD had no immediate comment.
The union said 92 percent of its members at AWE, who include
managers and manual workers, had voted for strike action.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)