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Campaign For New Caithness Jobs

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

GMB Campaign For Investment In Jobs In Caithness As Dounreay Nuclear Facility Is Decommissioned With Loss Of 1,000 Jobs 

The agencies have blown a lot of hot air over the past 6 years but there are no alternative businesses in place to scale up and help accommodate the displaced workers, or to retain the skills within the community says GMB

GMB is calling on the Alex Salmond the First Minister in the Scottish Government to make good his commitment to visit the Pentland Firth area to see first-hand the skills present along with the problems faced in redeploying the nearly 1,000 workforce and improving the infrastructure as the Dounreay nuclear facility is decommissioned.

GMB is also planning to lead a coordinated effort to lobby elected politicians and agencies in a call for action before this part of the Caithness economy becomes a sinking ship.

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.

Last week GMB published a report which showed that GDP per  head 2010 across the Highlands and Islands was 78% of the UK average and 87%  of the EU average.

Bruce Crabtree GMB Regional Officer said “Caithness has waited 6 years for the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA) to make good on their commitment to build the National Nuclear Archive in Wick (NNA).

The NDA have now announced that the NNA is scheduled to open in 2016 at a cost of somewhere between £15 and £20M and employ approximately 20 people. Although these jobs are welcome within the community they are only a drop in the ocean compared to the numbers who will find themselves unemployed in the coming years.

GMB now ask what the future holds, not only the current workforce but also the community that supported Dounreay in its operational years. The agencies have blown a lot of hot air over the past 6 years but all we have is ‘positive talk’ about future possibilities – there are no alternative businesses actually in place to scale up and help accommodate the displaced workers, or to retain the skills within the community. Caithness is haemorrhaging its future to the oil and renewable industries as many of the younger workers are not prepared to wait for supposed possibilities to appear in the present economic environment.

The First Minister gave a commitment to visit the area and see first-hand the skills present along with the problems faced in redeploying the workforce and improving our infrastructure. In Edinburgh at the Marine Energy and Caithness Economy Conference at Dynamic Earth in February 2008, the First Minister dubbed the Pentland Firth as the ‘Saudi Arabia of the north’. In the future we may have something in common with deserts – desolation and sand from our crumbling buildings.

Caithness needs the agencies to act now, and be transparent in their actions to bring in replacement work or our area will become the new Ravenscraig.

GMB is ready to lead a coordinated effort to lobby elected politicians and agencies such as MP and MSP calling for action before Caithness becomes a sinking ship. The politicians and bodies to be lobbied are :  John Thurso MP, Rob Gibson MSP, HIE, CNSRP, Highland Council, NDA, Scottish Government, UK Government, EU and DSRL”


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Contact: Bruce Crabtree 07921 885 784 or William Swanson GMB convenor 07920 838586
 

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