WORKERS at Drax Power Station could take strike ballot over more than 200 proposed redundancies at the North Yorkshire plant.

Unite said the prospect of strike action had resurfaced after the union’s members rejected the management’s latest offer by 84 per cent in a consultative ballot.

The union said that if the workers voted for strike action it would be the first time that such action had taken place at the plant, owned by the Drax Group Ltd.

Drax announced in February plans to close its coal-fired units at the plant by March 2021 as part of a bid to become carbon negative by 2030.

It said the end of coal generation would lead to between 200 and 230 job losses from April 2021.

The remaining four units are bio mass, using wood chip pellets. The coal-powered units are being replaced by gas generation ones.

Unite claims it was agreed during pay talks last year that there would be no compulsory redundancies amongst the 600-strong workforce, and argues that the company has now backtracked on that agreement.

Drax disputes this claim.

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “The members have rejected the revised offer by an 84 per cent majority and voted to proceed to an industrial action ballot.

“Our members even offered to take a pay and bonus freeze to improve redundancy terms and maintain jobs, but that has been rejected by the bosses.

“If the company adopted a scheme of natural wastage as workers left or retired, this would cost just £25 million a year for a limited period until the workforce is reduced."

He claimed Drax had 'backtracked' on a promise not to make compulsory redundancies, 'despite the Selby staff working flat-out during the pandemic and being classed as key workers'.

The strike ballot will be held in July.

But a Drax spokesman said: “No pledge was made last year about compulsory redundancies. A joint statement agreed with Unite in February when we announced we would be stopping using coal in March 2021 bears testament to this.

“We continue to work closely with the Trades Unions to agree the enhanced redundancy terms linked to the 206 roles which will be made redundant when Drax stops using coal next year. The majority of GMB and Prospect union members who voted in a consultative ballot accepted the enhanced redundancy terms. Regrettably, a majority of Unite members who voted confirmed their support for industrial action in the consultative ballot.”

Earlier this week, Drax announced a new, five-year contract with DB Cargo UK to transport supplies of sustainable biomass to Drax.

One of the UK’s largest rail freight operators, DB Cargo UK will operate an average of 60 trains per week from the ports of Immingham and Hull to Drax.

Each train will carry around 1,650 tonnes of sustainable biomass to Drax, which supplies 12 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity.