Workplace Report June 2007

Features: Health & safety - HSE monitor

Scientists protest at cuts to nuclear clean-up funds

Over 200 scientists employed at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) research site at Winfrith, Dorset held a lunchtime protest last month over the disclosure that funding for nuclear decommissioning at the site is being axed by 40%.

The scientists, members of the Prospect technical and professional union, fear that the dramatic reduction in funding from the government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will significantly slow down the clean-up of former nuclear plants at Winfrith, as well as leading to redundancies among skilled workers.

"It is unacceptable to put so many nuclear scientists under threat of redundancy at the very time there is concern in government about the shortage of skilled nuclear workers to implement NDA's decommissioning strategy," said Prospect national secretary David Luxton.

The protest was sparked by the disclosure that funding to implement the Winfrith decommissioning plan is being reduced from £44 million in the current financial year to only £15 million next year. Prospect is considering balloting its UKAEA members for industrial action over the cuts.