Enterprise

Written evidence submitted by Ian Milligan (ENT 39)

I am writing in response to 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 should like to start with some a definition quoted from the Oxford English Dictionary, the dictionary that has sat on my desk for the duration of my career within the Nuclear Industry which has spanned over 20 years.

The question I had was, what does the term a fat cat infer? The answer:

A Fat Cat – a wealthy person, a highly paid executive or official.

I, and many of my work colleagues employed by Magnox Ltd, are likely to be ‘caught’ in the proposed Exit Payment Cap of the Enterprise Bill, to which I, and my work mates across the board were shocked to discover, as we are ordinary working class people and do not consider ourselves to be Fat Cats by any stretch of the imagination.

I am a Waste Engineer (Operations) working for Magnox Ltd at Bradwell Nuclear Site, continuing to guide this Decommissioning site to a safe, legal and compliant state of Care & Maintenance, a site that I have been proud to work at for many years as part of a very dedicated, flexible, highly skilled and professional team.

As a former generating Nuclear Power Station, Bradwell was one of the country’s vital nuclear energy providers supplying electricity/power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses within Essex (and further afield).

This is something that will always be remembered and appreciated locally.

Sadly those days are now long gone and we’re now in a situation where we are now working ourselves out of jobs as we continue on the challenging, difficult, dangerous, technical job of decommissioning these nuclear power plants across the Magnox Fleet safely into Care and Maintenance.

My site, Bradwell ceased generation in 2002 and I knew I was then that we (my colleagues and I) were heading 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 myself and others, to see the site through defueling and start the de-commissioning phase of the reactors and all the plant across our station. This work would then apply to the rest of the fleet.

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 still had, or so I was lead to believe, the comfort of knowing that when I’m likely made redundant in the next few years I still have protected redundancy and pension terms.

This is something I had figured into easing my future financial commitments such as to pay my mortgage without the stress and worry as I approach redundancy at the age of 55/57 without prospects of a future career in the nuclear industry now all Magnox sites have ceased generation and reducing the workforce at an alarming rate. I have personally been asked to continue my service at Bradwell into the Care & Maintenance phase, with a commitment of work until potentially 2017, rather than leaving on severance as my skills, knowledge and experience are considered relevant and essential factors to delivering Magnox’s vision of a Lead and Learn site, Bradwell, into Care and Maintenance, I now feel betrayed and worried for myself and my family as I am the only "bread winner" at the prospect of the government forcibly meddling with the Terms & Conditions that I signed up for that were apparently secure to protect hard working middle class people like myself. The fact that I chose to commit my working career to the Nuclear Industry, which, until now had the knowledge that I had great protected terms and conditions. If I had known back in 2006, what I know now I would not have committed myself to a continued career with Magnox, I would have still been young enough to start afresh so to speak.

Enforcing the Bill on Magnox Ltd would be dangerous and counterproductive.

The government via the NDA currently spends ~ £500m year on year to deliver these decommissioning Magnox sites into Care and Maintenance, expecting to call upon Magnox’s 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 shattered by the Enterprise Bill.

Hard working ordinary middle class people like me with in excess of 20 service to the industry currently have yearly projected pension figures which are in jeopardy under the proposed cap, again, these 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 this proposal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail.

February 2016

 

Prepared 18th February 2016