More than 200 job losses announced by Drax power station in North Yorkshire demonstrate the need to ensure workers are included in a ‘just transition’ to clean energy usage, Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 27 February). 

Unite, which has more than 450 members at the power station, said the energy producer’s decision cut up to 230 jobs by the time it becomes coal free in 2021 highlights the need to ensure ‘union jobs on union rates’ are created as the UK moves towards a zero-carbon economy. 

The union said the bringing forward of the deadline to cease coal powered electrical generation to 2024 by the government and Drax’s failed bid for a Capacity Market Auction contract beyond 2022 were factors in the decision.  

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “Drax is a major employer in the area and today’s announcement will have a negative impact on the local economy, with numerous other job losses anticipated across the supply chain.

“Unite’s team of dedicated stewards at Drax are working tirelessly to ensure members are supported throughout this difficult time. The union will be exploring every avenue to protect the interests of our members and reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.”

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Unite believes that very little serious consideration has been given by the government about the transition from fossil fuels. 

“While it is undeniable that the use of coal contributes to carbon emissions, we are still very much reliant on it for the production of electricity as well as for steel making and other forms of heavy industry. Getting rid and hoping for the best will not solve this problem.

“There is very little evidence that the government is preparing for a just transition that not only replaces the use of coal with green energy sources, but does so in a way that provides well-paid unionised jobs for workers who will be displaced by the move to zero carbon. 

“Workers want to make the switch from coal, but they are also want, and are entitled to, union jobs on union rates – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. For a sustainable and fair green economy that works for everyone we need bold and decisive action from our political leaders and we need it now.” 


For more information please contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.


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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.