Submission from Prospect
1. Prospect is the recognised trade union
for scientific, engineering and other staff in the Science and
Technology Facilities Research Council (STFC).
2. Prospect recognises that the STFC did
not receive the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) allocation
it had hoped and that hard choices needed to be made. However,
we feel that decisions have been made secretly, without the involvement
of stakeholders, especially the staff. We contrast this with the
approach of other Councils (eg Natural Environment Research Council
with the restructuring of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)
where a dialogue was held on options before decisions were made.
3. As a result, staff do not understand
the STFC vision for the future or support the decisions taken.
4. The STFC Council have announced that
the CSR allocation was £80 million less than they had hoped
for. However, the settlement represents an in crease of over 13.5%
over the CSR period. Staff can only conclude that the cuts in
science programme and potential redundancies are a strategic decision
of Council and not a result of funding cuts. They question the
need for such a radical change of direction, which they believe,
puts their science, jobs and sites at risk.
5. This is compounded by the aim of the
STFC to create a further £40 million "headroom"
to allow for flexibility. This means an objective of finding £120
million cuts which staff fear will be funded by job losses. In
the absence of detailed plans, and a clear science strategy, staff
remain unconvinced that redundancies and loss of programme can
be reduced by efficiencies or other sources of funding.
6. Staff also fear for the future of the
UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) in Edinburgh and the Daresbury
7. Staff believe that the STFC's intention
to "explore alternative options for running the UKATC
means removing it from the public sector with little time to adjust
in order to compete. This is despite the fact that STFC's Chief
Executive has described this site as the "jewel in the crown".
They also fear that the aim of reducing "significantly the
proportion of in-house staff funded through Direct Vote"
and withdrawing from "major facility programmes which are
not of the highest priority"
will remove the critical mass from the Daresbury Laboratory site,
putting it at risk.
8. The proposals would also have a considerable
impact on the Rutherford Appleton Centre (RAL). Although RAL is
likely to survive, a substantial number of jobs could be lost
and areas of science abandoned (ie the International Linear Collider,
Solar-Terrestrial Physics and some e-Science).
9. Prospect sees a contradiction between
the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills statement
that the Daresbury Campus "will be at the heart of STFC's
economic impact strategy"
and the withdrawal of STFC from science programmes key to the
future of the site (ie the energy recovery Linac Prototype for
a next generation light source and the EMMA project, with application
to cancer therapy. Staff at Daresbury doubt that without these
key programmes or equally important alternatives that the site
can "act as a focal point for collaboration and knowledge
exchange with industry and academic researchers"
or be a "genuine internationally-competitive critical mass"
10. In addition, staff note the different
approaches envisaged for the Daresbury and Harwell Campuses. They
believe that the "range of options"
being considered for the latter rather than the Joint Venture
Company proposed for the former, (where the "major facilities
ie Diamond, ISIS and the Central Laser Facility"
will be) shows a lesser commitment by the STFC to the future of
Daresbury Laboratory. Staff feel let down, especially after the
promises made about their future by the previous Minister Lord
Sainsbury and the investment made by the North West Regional Development
11. At worst case, the STFC Delivery Plan
could result in the loss of hundreds of skilled jobs representing
a further drain on the scientific and engineering capability in
the UK. Additionally, the future of the UKATC and the Daresbury
Laboratory appear to be at risk. The STFC have said that they
hope to reduce the need for job losses through efficiency savings
and by attracting alternative funding.
Prospect hopes that they succeed. However, in the absence of any
detail we remain concerned.
23 STFC Delivery Plan 2008/9-2011/12 paragraph 1.2. Back
The Allocation of the Science Budget 2008/9-2010/11, Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills, December 2007. Back
STFC Delivery Plan 2008/9-2011/12 Section 3 introduction. Back
STFC Delivery Plan 2008/9-20011/12 paragraph 3.1. Back
STFC Delivery Plan 2008/9-2001/12 paragraph 3.1. Back
STFC Delivery Plan 2008/9-2011/12 paragraphs 1.1 and 5.1. Back