HOMEOWNERS could face power shortages over the festive period if industrial action at nuclear power stations, including Torness, goes ahead.

GMB Scotland today (Thursday) warned that the industrial action could leave the country without a third of its electricity supply this Christmas, as a dispute over cuts to staff terms and conditions intensifies.

The biggest trade union in the UK nuclear industry is set to launch a nationwide consultative ballot after EDF Energy, which owns Torness, on the outskirts of Dunbar, announced it will cut a long-standing agreement covering pay, terms and conditions during statutory outage periods.

The ballot will include Scotland’s Hunterston B and Torness stations, which employs a total of 1,500 workers, producing 35 per cent of Scotland’s total electricity generation capable of delivering power to 3.7 million homes.

GMB has informed the Scottish Government about the potential implications for supply in the event of industrial action.

A UK wide consultative ballot across the EDF nuclear fleet will run from Monday to November 6.

Gary Smith, GMB Scottish Secretary, said: “Industrial action at Hunterston B and Torness could have profound implications for electricity generation and supply across Scotland but we have been left with little choice than to take on EDF over these draconian cuts.

"Outages are a statutory requirement, a safety critical process delivering the maintenance of our nuclear reactors.

"During these periods staff become fully available, work flexibly to accommodate the employer’s requirements and receive enhanced rates in return.

"The outage rates were negotiated by trade unions because this is an intensive period of work that places significant demands on staff across the UK’s nuclear fleet and it is ludicrous that a hugely profitable multi-national like EDF is trying to break this agreement.

"This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but we hope that EDF will see sense, withdraw this cuts imposition on our members’ terms and conditions and return to negotiations with GMB and our sister trade unions.”

An EDF Energy spokesperson:  "We are actively engaged in consultation with our TU partners, including GMB and are not aware of any ballot notifications.

"We’re sharing open and constructive dialogue in a period where costs are going up and income from electricity generation is going down and have been having productive conversations on how to achieve our shared goals."