Socialist Worker

Deskilling fight escalates as pickets hit Hinkley Point

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2749

Hitting the nuclear power plant site

Hitting the nuclear power plant site

The battle against deskilling in construction saw protests for the first time at the Hinkley Point nuclear site in Somerset last week.

Wednesday also saw protests in London, Glasgow, and the north west of England.

Energy giant EDF and its partners are building the Hinkley C plant in Somerset.

Firms there have created new grades to undercut industry terms and conditions.

The bosses’ MEH Alliance at Hinkley Point C is a consortium made up of Altrad, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear and Doosan Babcock. It has called the new rate‑busting grades Electrical Support Operatives (ESO).

It withdrew the grade after protests—but has now seemingly rebranded it as Hinkley Site Operative (HSO) grade.

As much as 80 percent of the electrical work at the site looks likely to be moved to the new grade.


The protest at the Hinkley site blocked the road as buses arrived bringing people to work on the site.

The Unite union chose last week to repudiate the action at Hinkley Point and advised workers at the site not to join the demonstration.

Its enthusiasm for recognition on site seems larger than its enthusiasm for defending workers’ terms and conditions.

One worker on the protest told Reel News, “If the new grade isn’t completely taken off the table and replaced with NVQ Level 3 apprenticeships, we’ll be back down here. Wait till we have hundreds coming down here.”

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