Enterprise

Written evidence submitted by Darren Stevens (ENT 30)

I am writing about the proposed cap on redundancy payments for public sector workers in the Enterprise Bill that will shortly be coming before the House of Commons at its public committee stage.

I would like to start with some ‘food for thought’ and a definition from my old tatty Oxford Encyclopaedic English Dictionary, the dictionary that I purchased at the start of my apprenticeship, and career, with the then CEGB as a Craft Apprentice some 33 years ago!

Page 513: Fat Cat – a wealthy person, a highly paid executive or official

I, and many of my work colleagues in Magnox Ltd, are likely to be ‘netted’ in the proposed Exit Payment Cap of the Enterprise Bill which we are shocked to discover as we do not consider ourselves to be Fat Cats, me, I am a middle management Operations Engineer working on shift for Magnox Ltd at Bradwell Nuclear Site, continuing to keep the site safe, legal and compliant ‘on my watch’, a site that I have been proud to work at since 1983 when I left school. Back then Bradwell was one of the country’s vital nuclear energy providers supplying power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, something I always remembered when I was working Christmas Day’s, New Year’s Eve’s, etc when I was a Reactor Desk Engineer controlling a nuclear reactor safely and compliantly to keep the power flowing, sadly them days are gone and we’re now working ourselves out of jobs as we embark on the tough, difficult, dangerous, technical job of decommissioning these nuclear power plants safely into Care and Maintenance.

Bradwell ceased generation in 2002 and I knew I was then destined, with many of my other shift Operations Engineer colleagues, for redundancy something we had been aware of for many years, we wouldn’t have a job forever. At that time the company introduced the Lifetime Partnership Agreement (LPA) to secure our favourable redundancy terms as we knowingly worked ourselves out of a job, favourable terms that would allow the company to retain its skilled, knowledgeable staff, like me, to defuel and de-commission these reactors and stations. Employees had also been given a ‘pension building’ opportunity over an 18 month period, which would give us another whole year in our pension pot. The LPA ended in 2010 and since that date ALL our redundancy packages have been capped/frozen at a reference severance value ( no increase in value since 2010!) but I personally still have the comfort (or so I thought) of knowing that when I’m likely made redundant in the next 2-3 years I still have good protected redundancy and pension terms which have been developed over many years, something I have factored into my latter lifestyle and future financial commitments as I approach redundancy at the age of 52/53 without prospects of a future career in the nuclear industry now all Magnox sites have ceased generation and progressively make staff redundant. I have personally been asked to continue my service at Bradwell in 2006, 2007, and 2009, rather than leaving on severance as my skills, knowledge and experience where important and essential factors to delivering Magnox’s Lead and Learn site, Bradwell, into Care and Maintenance, I now feel nauseous to the core at the prospect of the government forcibly pulling the carpet away from under hard working middle class people like me that have committed a life career to the industry who until now had the knowledge that we had great protected terms and conditions. If I had known back in 2006,07,09 what I know now I would not have committed myself to a continued career with Magnox.

Enforcing the Bill on Magnox Ltd would be dangerous and counterproductive

The government currently spends circa £500m year on year to deliver these Magnox sites into Care and Maintenance utilising Magnox dedicated, skilful, knowledgeable long serving staff, like myself, that would seriously re-consider their long term prospects with Magnox if their Terms and Conditions are to be degraded by the Enterprise Bill.

Long service hard working middle class people like me with 30+ years’ service to the industry currently have projected yearly pensions of between £20-£25k, figures which are in jeopardy under the proposed cap, these potentially effected people are NOT fat cats.

To this end I ask you to raise these important issues at the committee in the House of Commons with a view to securing a commitment that private companies in the nuclear estate involved in decommissioning sites (Magnox in my case) will be excluded from the scope of the proposal.

Thank you for your time.

February 2016

 

Prepared 18th February 2016