February 22, 2018 / 10:23 AM / in 4 months

E.ON nuclear workers to stage further action on Monday in German pay dispute

FRANKFURT, Feb 22 (Reuters) - German trade union IG BCE is urging 600 workers at three nuclear sites run by utility group E.ON to down tools on Feb. 26 in a pay dispute, a day before the next scheduled talks with management.

The northern German Grohnde reactor is the site chosen for the protest action while staff from the Unterweser and Stade plants in the same region were invited to travel to Grohnde, a spokesman for IG BCE in Hanover said.

While Grohnde is due to undergo maintenance from the weekend, Unterweser and Stade are already idle under Germany’s exit from nuclear power, but must be maintained for safety reasons ahead of a long decommissioning process.

“Safety cover is of course arranged but we reckon with wider support for our action to underscore our demands,” the spokesman said.

The news comes in the context of planned strikes in the French electricity sector in coming days that could cut production, adding to tightness in the interconnected European wholesale power market.

While the German action’s impact on output will likely be small, it comes at a time when traders are nervous about this coinciding with rising mid-winter power demand. French week-ahead power is off Wednesday’s 13-week high but still at its highest level since early December.

IG BCE is seeking a 5.5 percent pay rise for nuclear employees in E.ON’s PreussenElektra unit and those in regional subsidiary Avacon as well as at power network operator Tennet .

Workers already protested at Avacon in Salzgitter on Monday.

The union said employers had offered to raise salaries by 2.1 percent over 18 months.

IG BCE, together with the Verdi union which shares representation of some 10,000 workers across E.ON, say the company’s offer left employees short, in comparison with related industries and given E.ON’s economic situation.

The company has said it will help generate a fair deal. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Adrian Croft)

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