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EDF smart meter installation could be hit by strike action

Written by: Emma Lunn
Union Unite has warned that smart meter installation for EDF customers in London and southern England could be impacted by industrial action.

Unite is balloting EDF’s smart meter installers for strike action in a pay dispute. The union warned that the impact of industrial action on EDF’s customers will be to slow down meter installation.

Smart meters are designed to save people money on their gas and electricity bills by providing suppliers with accurate meter readings, bringing an end to estimates. The government had originally committed to smart meters being offered to every home and small business by the end of 2020 but the deadline was pushed back to 2024 and an installation target of 85% was given.

Unite is balloting 282 EDF smart meter installers and those involved in debt collection in London, the south east and south west from tomorrow (1 October) until 29 October.

The union said the management’s pay offer of 1.5%, due from April this year, was ‘totally inadequate’, given that the latest CPI rate of inflation has soared to 3.2%.

Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer ,said: “Our members at EDF are among those who continued working with the public during the pandemic. Now the company wants to reward those same workers with what is effectively a pay cut – the 1.5% on the table is totally inadequate given the rapidly rising inflation rate.

“The CPI inflation rate is currently 3.2%, but we believe that it is set to increase further by Christmas. The employers really do need to be more imaginative – each year we get the same old tired routine, but just with different excuses as to why workers should not get a decent pay rise. The bosses always sing the same song, but just change the lyrics annually.

“The impact of strike action will be to slow down meter installation which will hinder the climate change agenda. It will also hit EDF on the bottom line as monies owed by customers will not be collected as the debt collection teams will also be taking industrial action.

“Now is the time for the management of this highly profitable energy giant to enter into constructive talks before this dispute escalates into strike action.”

Other issues at the centre of the EDF dispute include failure to reach an agreement in relation to restructures including work on installing power points for electric vehicles, failure to agree relocation compensation for staff and unilateral changes to collective agreements.

An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “EDF are disappointed to have received notice that Unite have decided to ballot for industrial action with their field-based members, before negotiations have concluded and whilst our conversations are ongoing. We’re constantly reviewing how we reward and recognise our employees, whilst also ensuring that we offer fair prices to customers- and operate a sustainable business model. We hope to meet with our Trade Union partners soon to continue discussions.”

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