Hinkley is a ‘litmus test’ for post-Brexit investment, say unions


EDF’s decision on whether or not to procced with Hinkley Point C will be a ‘litmus test’ for investment in big infrastructure project post-Brexit, unions in Britain have said.

Unite, Ucatt, Prospect and the GMB union have reiterated their support for the project in anticipation of the conclusion of a consultation between EDF and the French unions represented on its board.

“The UK trade unions are 100 per cent in support of Hinkley Point C and believe that it is vital to make a final investment decision in a timely fashion soon after the consultation process is completed,” they said in a letter to EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz.

They continued: “It would be a tragedy, in both France and the UK, if all this work and the extraordinary opportunities it provides were to be lost.

“The moment to make the decision is upon us and we have a genuine fear that any further delay will lead to the unravelling of all that we have fought so hard to achieve.”

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “The final investment decision by EDF Energy on Hinkley Point will be the first litmus test following the Brexit vote that much-needed investment in large infrastructure projects is still coming on stream.”

Acting general secretary of Ucatt Brian Rye said: “This is a vitally needed and ground breaking project. The decision on the final go-ahead on Hinkley will demonstrate whether foreign-owned companies are still prepared to invest in the UK. The government needs to ensure that they get this deal over the line.”

De Rivaz has previously said the vote to leave the European Union will not affect the need for Hinkley.

EDF has been holding a consultation with workers via the company’s central works council which represents its employees. The consultation began on 9 May and is due to last 60 days, concluding on 4 July.

The process was launched after the council reportedly threatened to take legal action against EDF’s board of directors if they didn’t consult with workers. Shortly afterwards EDF delayed its final investment decision to allow the consultation to take place.

The views of British unions contrasts sharply with those of their French counterparts.  In May the secretary general of the central works council said they are unlikely to give their blessings to the project. The following month it was reported the council had taken legal action to get the consultation extended.

Although the central works council is an official body within EDF the company is not legally obliged to abide by the council’s decision on whether or not to support the project.

EDF has previously declined to comment on what the company’s legal obligations are regarding the council, and whether it is required to allow the consultation to conclude before making a final investment decision.

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