prospect heads for trouble


Prospect, the union representing a range of engineers, scientists and managers, is moving towards action on a number of fronts.

Its 1,750 members in the Health and Safety Executive are being balloted on a range of industrial action following their rejection of a pay offer which would see pay grow by only 0.5% a year until 2006. The union is seeking a 2.6% increase, affordable within the Treasury guidelines of 3.7%.

Tactics could include selective stoppages and mass "going to work days" in offices where there is insufficient space for the staff based there.

Richard Hardy, the union's negotiator has said, "This is not just about levels of pay, but about HSE's ability to maintain an experienced and committed workforce in order to deliver safe workplaces for all."

The union is also trying to halt the closure of the Bedford-based Silsoe Research Institute. This is a unique engineering research facility with 200 workers. The President of the science, engineering and technology group, Nigel Titchen, says, "If these proposals are enacted it will result in internationally recognised research being axed and the fragmentation of inter-disciplinary research teams with the loss of many fine scientists."

Lastly, staff at the three museums of the National Museum of Science and Industry are taking action over the decision to defer the implementation of their 2003 pay and grading deal for three months. Some staff could lose up to £2,500. They will be working strictly to their hours with a ban on unpaid overtime, which the museums depend upon to keep running.

Management face a deficit of around £600,000, largely because the government failed to compensate the museum for the extra costs associated with introducing free entry. Prospect warns that without further funding increases the museum will be forced into more cuts.