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GMB Demands Clarity over Moorside

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

 

Union says this is why foreign investors shouldn't be left to keep Britain's lights on.

GMB has demanded clarity over the future of Moorisde after Toshiba asked for a delay in releasing their accounts this morning amid a share plunge.

The Japanese technology giant was expected to announce huge losses of £4.8 billion - and the entire future of the firm could be at risk.

The chaos has fuelled fears Toshiba will pull out of the Moorside nuclear reactor new build Project and GMB has called for urgent clarity from Government on the whole project.

The union says the possible Toshiba announcement, coming hot on the heels of the problems at Sellafield with the pension proposals from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) [1], means the British Government must clarify the position for the future of Britain's energy supply and indeed the future for West Cumbria.

The GMB Northern Region, a key stakeholder in the Moorside developments say that without the new plant all that would be left in West Cumbria would be decommissioning.

Chris Jukes GMB Senior Organiser for Sellafield said:

"Currently nuclear is focused on decommissioning at Sellafield, with a highly skilled workforce carrying out very complex operations with safety and security paramount.

"Sellafield looks after the highest level of radioactive waste in the UK and Government owes the area a huge debt of gratitude.

"Unfortunately that debt is repaid by the NDA seeking massive cuts in the deferred pay of the workforce, through the NDA pension proposals.

"In terms of Moorside, this potential new build is part of a broader and home grown energy mix, built, maintained and operated by 20,000 British workers.

"Brexit should be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate conclusively a better way for nuclear in West Cumbria.

"For 70 years Whitehaven has been a hub for nuclear. "The West Cumbria area needs the regeneration a new plant would bring.

"New infrastructure, new roads, better railways, demand for housing, health and school places, would all follow a brand new power plant. "All of these can fuel employment and keep skills in the area.

"That is why we are calling on the British Government to commit the investment lost by Toshiba pulling out and for the British and Japanese Governments to work together on a broader solution so that post Brexit, West Cumbria jobs, skills and nuclear futures are guaranteed.

"Uncertainty over the Toshiba deal shows exactly why foreign investors shouldn't be left to keep Britain's lights on."

ENDS

Contact: Chris Jukes on 07870 176733 or GMB Press Office  on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

[1]

GMB Press release January 5 2017

NDA's £660million Broken Pension Promise

There is no justification for this attack on the pensions of these nuclear workers and their communities, these pension funds are in a sound state say GMB, Unite, Prospect and Aslef.

GMB, Prospect, Unite and ASLEF/TSSA Unions representing workers in the nuclear sector are to meet in London on Monday 9th January over £660 million cuts to 16,000 nuclear workers' pensions across 19 sites across the UK.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is starting a process of statutory consultation about proposed Government cuts to final salary pension benefits across the NDA estate from 9 January 2017 until Friday 10 March 2017.

The meeting will take place at GMB Offices, Euston, at 11am on Monday 9th January and will involve senior nuclear trade union representatives from all over the country to discuss what action is required.

16,000 workers will be affected working for Sellafied (Cumbria), Magnox (Anglesey, Ayrshire, Dorset, Dumfriesshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwynedd, Kent, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Suffolk), Direct Rail Services (Cumbria), Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (Caithness), Low Level Waste Repository (Cumbria) and International Nuclear Services (Cumbria, Warrington).

Government’s expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA estate will have been reformed by April 2018.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for the Nuclear Sector, said:

“There is no justification for this attack on the pensions of these nuclear workers and their communities.

"These pension funds are in a sound state and underwent considerable reform 10 years ago.

"What the government are saying is that the privatised Site License Companies who run these nuclear facilities are in fact public sector organisations and therefore Sellafield, Dounreay and the Magnox Sites should go through the same reforms as the rest of the public sector itself.

"This is a point blank betrayal of the promises made by Margaret Thatcher to nuclear communities when the electricity industry was privatised in the 1990's and the public sector-like pension being proposed would make it by far the worst across the public sector."

Kevin Coyne, Unite National Officer, said:

“We are urging all our members working for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to resist this proposed Treasury-led ‘raid’ on their pensions – if it is allowed to go-ahead thousands of workers will see their retirement incomes slashed by thousands of pounds.

“It is blatantly clear that the NDA is the stalking horse for the government is which hell-bent in saving £660 million over the period of decommissioning.

"This assault on our members’ pensions is made all the more sour by the fact that the scheme is not in deficit.

"The NDA is the monkey to the government’s organ grinder in this sordid and unnecessary sleight of hand.

“Our members have already made big sacrifices since the last pension changes were imposed in 2008 – and enough is enough.

"Our members will be prepared to take determined industrial action to defend their hard-earned retirement incomes.”

Dai Hudd, Prospect Deputy General Secretary, said:

"Prospect members are some of the most highly skilled workers in the UK, indeed some number amongst the highest skilled engineers and scientists working in this field in the world.

"They commit to the development of ground breaking solutions to tackle one of human kinds greatest long term challenges.

"There can be no justification for these cuts to the future pensions of these workers.

”The magnitude of the future cuts are in the order of £600m.

"There was a justified, public and political outcry when Phillip Green is accused of taking a similar figure of £580m from the pension fund of BHS, there should be no different reaction to this Treasury inspired raid, on a scheme that is not in the public sector.

"The consultation, such that it is, inspires little confidence of our members.

"We will oppose detrimental changes to their terms, legally, politically and if necessary industrially.

"The forthcoming Copeland By-Election will be a key battle for these issues.“

Colin Smith, north-west district organiser for ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said:

"ASLEF will not stand by and be told that the pensions that we have secured through fair and equitable negotiations will be downgraded by a dogmatic approach via the Government decision to carryout their ideology in attacking the Final Salary Pension scheme of our members."
 

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