Enterprise

Written evidence submitted by Wayne Griffiths (ENT 33)

Dear Sir / Madam,

I write as an employee of Magnox Ltd (at Dungeness 'A' decommissioning site) to urge that we be excluded from the provisions of any proposed cap on redundancy payments in the public sector. My redundancy terms, like all the terms and conditions of my employment, are a matter for me and my employer and should not be unilaterally changed by government.

The consultation document talks about 'fairness', I believe that the way the proposed legislation would 'ride roughshod' over our hard won Terms & Conditions of employment is certainly not 'fair'.

Back in the early 2000's the company announced the closure program for all Magnox power stations. This was obviously a blow to the highly skilled and motivated workforce and in order to maintain the staff required to get the sites through the safe defueling and into de-commissioning, the company, in consultation with the unions, came up with an enhanced severance and early retirement scheme to encourage people to stay.

The scheme is that employees could earn a severance figure of up to 22 months of pensionable salary (years’ service and final figure froze in 2010) and perhaps more importantly, the right to take early retirement at age 50 (if in the pension scheme prior to 2003) with the full pension earned to the date of severance.

My understanding is that whilst most severances would amount to less than £95k the cost of providing the early retirement is often at least the same again bringing the package as a whole to over the proposed cap of £95k.

Dungeness 'A' ceased generation on 31 December 2006 and 'armed' with this assurance I chose to stay with the company and see the station through defueling and into the decommissioning phase. I am a well-qualified and experienced Engineer both in terms of education and on the job training and I have little doubt that I would have found alternative employment which would have suited me in terms of my age at that time and my family commitments, but the decision to stay was based on the company honouring the agreed severance terms on completion of my service. Many of my colleagues both at Dungeness and the other Magnox sites made the same decision.

Effectively, the severance/early retirement scheme had the desired effect and the company was able to retain the experienced staff necessary to take the Magnox sites through the safe defueling and into decommissioning. It seems unjust that after working to my agreed terms & conditions and getting the site through the safe defueling and into the decommissioning phase that at this late stage the deal should now be rendered worthless by the proposed cap.

In closing I would like to make two further points:

1) We are not excessively paid executives who 'flit' in and out of public sector bodies working for a few years and then taking large severance deals, we are time-served employees who have earned the right to our severance deal as currently defined (un-capped).

2) The effect of imposing such a cap may drive the experienced workforce away from Magnox, if we are not working to our current terms and conditions the incentive to stay is gone and the Magnox workforce may look for alternative long term employment. What effect might this have on the continued safe delivery of the defueling and decommissioning program (bearing in mind that some sites are not yet fuel free)?

Once again I urge you to exclude Magnox Ltd employees from the provisions of any proposed cap on redundancy payments in the public sector.

February 2016

 

Prepared 18th February 2016