A row over bonus pay is threatening to lead to an industrial dispute among construction workers at the site of the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation.
A consultative ballot is to be held among 700 members of the Unite and GMB unions, which could lead to a vote on industrial action at the planned Hinkley Point power station.
The unions claim contractors at the £18 billion project in Somerset have failed to pay a predicted bonus.
Union official Rob Miguel said: “The Hinkley Point nuclear power station is key to the future energy needs of the UK.
“The project has already suffered delays and to achieve the 2025 start date for electricity generation, a skilled construction workforce is required.
“If the consultative ballot eventually leads to a full-scale industrial action ballot, we could be looking at delays to the construction at Hinkley Point, which will be very expensive for the employers as hired-in plant and machinery will be lying idle.
“The scheme has already been plagued by delays over its financing and can’t afford any further interruptions.
“We would urge the employers to get back around the table with senior union officials to achieve a fair settlement in line with the agreement already in place, so building can continue on schedule.”
Unite regional officer Tim Morris said: “Our members came to Hinkley Point under the belief that they would receive excellent pay and bonuses.
“The employers think they can do this on the cheap by offering a derisory bonus rate, but the workers consider it to be completely inadequate to attract and hold on to the skilled workforce necessary.”