Cumbria

Sixty jobs to go at nuclear site in Whitehaven

A total of 60 nuclear jobs are to be axed in West Cumbria.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has announced the posts will go at its headquarters on the Westlakes Science Park, near Whitehaven.

The agency, which also has offices in Warrington, Harwell and Dounreay in North Scotland, has begun a 30-day consultation with staff.

The NDA said the cuts were a knock-on effect from a number of efficiency savings it had made.

It said its current organisational structure was designed for its start-up phase, from which it had made "considerable" progress.

The company will shed 90 jobs in total from across its sites, a 30% reduction in its workforce.

'Minimise cuts'

The West Cumbrian office, the company's headquarters, which employs 200 people will be worst hit.

Bill Hamilton, head of stakeholder communications at NDA, said: "Management will be working with staff and trade unions to try and minimise the effect of the cuts.

"We are looking at re-employment or retirement. If we have to look at redundancies we hope they will be voluntary rather than compulsory."

Much of the work handled by the government agency has now been handed to the private sector, with the transfer of sites such as Sellafield.

A review has been under way into staffing levels since January.

NDA chief executive Tony Fountain said: "We have moved a 19,000-strong workforce from the public to the private sector by fundamentally restructuring the industry through the creation of six site licence companies under the ownership of some of the leading companies in the world.

"The time is right for our organisation to more closely reflect our future role which is to set direction and hold our contractors to account for performance delivery."

Councillor Tim Heslop, leader of Allerdale council, said he was "disappointed" at the cuts.

He said: "This does not mean that West Cumbria is not committed to the nuclear industry.

"We have a strong industry with a skilled workforce and there is still much work in nuclear decommissioning and potentially new nuclear sites here in West Cumbria."

Jez Stewart, negotiator at Prospect union, which represents staff at the NDA, said the union was "shocked and disappointed" at the scale of the proposed job cuts.

He said: "Consultation has only just begun but we will be examining management's rationale and the ability of the NDA to do its job of overseeing the clean-up of the UK's nuclear legacy and meet its statutory obligations."

He said the union would be working with management to try and "minimise the threat" of compulsory redundancy.

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