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Dounreay Economic Legacy

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

GMB Scotland Seek Action From Scottish Government On Economic Legacy Of Dounreay Nuclear Site

The economic legacy has not been fully grasped and unfortunately the latest contract management team have performed lamentably in this sphere says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland is seeking a meeting with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Business, Energy & Tourism in the Scottish Government to discuss a range of concerns arising from a survey of members and the economic legacy of the Dounreay nuclear site currently being decommissioned. See notes to editors for copy of GMB letter to Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Business, Energy & Tourism.

The issues members want to raise include: lack of control shown in recent safety incidents; turnover of senior management; low levels of staff morale; number of stress related cases; sickness levels; use of reach back within the partnership companies; the value the partners give to the taxpayer; failure to learn from experience; and need for stability and continuity of the decommissioning programme. 

The Dounreay nuclear facility is located on the north coast of Scotland near Thurso and has a total site area of 74 hectares. It was established in the mid-1950s as a research reactor site with fuel production and processing facilities. There were three reactors, the last of which ceased operation in 1994. It is currently being decommissioned and demolished by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) under a contract from UK Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA) which owns the site.

DSRL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Babcock Dounreay Partnership Ltd, a consortium of Babcock International Group, CH2MHILL and URS and it employs up to 800 people on the site with several hundred workers employed by contractors also on-site.

GMB is part of a campaign to lobby elected politicians and agencies for action to deal with the closure of Dounreay so as to stop parts of the Caithness economy becoming a sinking ship.

Liz Gordon, GMB Organiser, says in the letter “There are concerns within the community for what happens after the Dounreay closure - the Nuclear Archives are finally being built, investment has been put into Scrabster and Wick Harbours but how many jobs have been created?  We have seen several companies closing within the community adding to the anxiety and unemployed totals.

If much of the future belongs to renewable energy and the hope of resurgence in the oil industry then significant investment in the local skill market is required.

The economic legacy of the Dounreay Programme has not been fully grasped and unfortunately the latest contract management team have performed lamentably in this sphere.

I’m sure you will agree that the matters raised are of significance, with such public concern about the site, not to mention public funds; we believe there needs to be a more concerted effort by those in a position of influence to bring these issues to the attention of Scottish and UK Governments.

I would like to suggest a meeting as I believe it would be useful to explore any common ground we may have before we decide how to take these concerns of our members forward.”

End

Contact: Liz Gordon on 01463 233088 or  07920 838588 or Mick Conroy 07921 289 737 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editor

Text of GMB letter dated Friday, 09 October 2015.

To Fergus Ewing,

Cabinet Secretary for Business, Energy & Tourism in the Scottish Government

Highland Railhouse, Station Square, Inverness, IV1 1LE.

Dounreay GMB Members Survey

Dear Mr Ewing

I write to highlight concerns identified in a recent GMB Trade Union Members Survey undertaken at Dounreay, these include:

·    Lack of control shown in recent safety incidents

·    Turnover of Senior Management

·    Low levels of staff morale

·    Number of stress related cases

·    Sickness levels

·    The use of Reach back within the Partnership companies

·    The value the partners give to the taxpayer

·    Failure to learn from experience

·    Need for stability and continuity of the decommissioning programme

Our members work on one of the most complex nuclear sites in the country. Many identify communication as a key issue tied in with a general lack of engagement with management. Staff are reporting feeling undermined & undervalued. The sense of alienation is exacerbated by discontent over pay issues, APR’s, Pay Progression and bonuses. There’s growing unhappiness with the disparity between management and with the pay difference with Contractors.

Health & Safety is of real concern with hitting targets taking priority over duty of care. One notable quote that sums up the tone of many comments is “how many fires, people getting hurt, improvement notices, environmental non-compliance, main entrance barriers getting damaged, stress cases and bullies, fuel / oil spills and missed equipment does it take……”

The extended use of contractors at Dounreay is a drain on the sites finances as they are a more expensive option than the in-house staff. Their use should be a short-term option supplementing the existing workforce, but a great number have been on-site between 5 and 10 years at inflated salaries.

There are concerns within the community for what happens after the Dounreay Closure - the Nuclear Archives are finally being built, investment has been put into Scrabster and Wick Harbours but how many jobs have been created?  We have seen several companies closing within the community adding to the anxiety and unemployed totals.

If much of the future belongs to renewable energy and the hope of resurgence in the oil industry then significant investment in the local skill market is required.

The workforce do not feel respected by the company, over 90% of respondents made this clear and raises concern regarding their state of mind and possibly explains higher levels of sickness, increased instances of stress and continuing breaches of procedures.

Skills; over 78% of respondents did not think they had adequate opportunities to improve their skills; this could be another explanation for continuing issues.

Post Dounreay; greater than 75% of those responding do not see the Partnership taking any responsibility for maintaining or improving the communities standing / future.

Almost 90% of respondents do not agree that safety standards have improved under the Partnership.

The economic legacy of the Dounreay Programme has not been fully grasped and unfortunately the latest contract management team have performed lamentably in this sphere.

I’m sure you will agree that the matters raised are of significance, with such public concern about the site, not to mention public funds; we believe there needs to be a more concerted effort by those in a position of influence, to bring these issues to the attention of Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

I would like to suggest a meeting as I believe it would be useful to explore any common ground we may have before we decide how to take these concerns of our members forward.

Yours sincerely Liz Gordon  GMB Organiser

 

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