Workers at a nuclear power plant have overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a row over what a union describes as a “real-terms pay cut”.

GMB Scotland members at the Dounreay plant in the Highlands, which is operated by Nuclear Restoration Services and is in the process of being decommissioned, voted by 85% in favour of strike action.

The workers are tasked with the clean-up of the Caithness complex, which operated as a nuclear plant from 1955 until 1994.

It is now a site of construction, demolition and waste management to decommission it for future generations.

Around 450 workers at Dounreay were balloted last month following a dispute over a 4.5% pay offer backdated to April 2023.

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Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser, said the pay offer is unacceptable as it covers a 12-month period when inflation was higher than 11%, meaning it amounts to a real-terms cut.

The union said the ballot had a turnout of 85%.

He said: “Given the economic situation, our members have not been offered a pay rise at all but a real-terms pay cut.

“Managers insist they are bound by civil service rules but apparently can pick and choose which rules to follow. They seem far more relaxed when it comes to their own pay, for example.”

Lesley-Anne MacAskill, the union’s Highlands organiser, said: “For more than a year, our members have heard plenty of warm words and excuses – but excuses do not pay their bills.

“They need a fair pay offer and the overwhelming support for industrial action revealed in this ballot clearly shows they will do whatever is necessary to secure one.”

The site, run by Nuclear Restoration Services – previously known as Magnox – is a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and is due to be cleaned up by 2033.

The company has been asked for comment.