Around 1,300 workers at UK Power Networks are planning a strike after being offered a below-inflation pay rise.

The UKPN employees repair, maintain, and administrate the electricity grid for London, and the South East and East of England.

national grid
– Sebastian Moss

They were offered a seven percent pay rise effective from last April in addition to another rise based on inflation, which is expected to be 11.1 percent - for a total of 18 percent over two years. But the union members claim that they are normally offered an annual wage increase that meets or exceeds retail price index (RPI) inflation. The RPI was 13.4 percent as of January.

The Unite union notes that UKPN had an average operating profit margin of over 50 percent between 2017 and 2021, nearly five times higher than the FTSE100 average.

“UKPN’s profiteering, which has seen it continue to rake in astronomical profits as millions of families dread the arrival of their next energy bill, is a prime example of why Britain’s economy is broken," Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.

"Our members at UKPN, like the rest of ordinary working families across the UK, are also struggling with rocketing energy bills... Despite its astronomical profits, the company has decided to offer its workers a real terms pay cut."

Two other unions, Unison and Prospect, voted to accept the offer, while GMB has not balloted members.

“We believe our record offer of a projected 18 percent pay rise and additional benefits is a fair and generous one,” UKPN said in a statement.

It said that it did not believe industrial action would put the grid at risk, however, delayed repairs are likely.

The UK has been gripped by a growing number of strikes as living costs outpace earnings. Among those striking are UK train drivers, Ryanair cabin crew, EasyJet pilots, London Underground workers, postal workers, and container ship port workers.

Last year, BT workers repeatedly went on strike for better pay.

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