Just as the bulk of remaining employees face the possibility of departing next year, the new UK Enterprise Bill is set to move Magnox Ltd back into the public sector — while capping the exit payment for public sector workers.
Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell says he is now seeking secondary legislation to protect employees at the former nuclear site near Annan from the effects of the Bill.
But having refused to join Labour and the SNP in making amendments to the bill which they say would have protected workers, Mr Mundell said: “The amendment to the Bill that was put forward was too wide to be accepted but I am absolutely committed to ensuring that workers at Chapelcross are protected and the best way to do this would be through secondary legislation which is something I am in ongoing discussions with Ministers about.”
A year-long Best Fit Exercise has been taking place at Chapelcross, as part of a bid to reduce staffing across all Magnox Ltd sites by up to 20 per cent.
A total workforce of 300 last May had fallen to 230 Magnox employees by December with 20 left to go.
They are not expected to be affected by the severance changes, but if Chapelcross moves to a five-year ‘interim care and maintenance’ phase in 2017 a further 160 would go, as staff numbers drop to less than 50.
Union Prospect are involved in talks with the Government over the issue, and speaking after a key vote on March 8 deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “The result was disappointing but we can definitely build on the cross-party support we saw.
“Our aim now is to present the strongest possible evidence for nuclear estate employees to be exempt from the cap.
“Members can be assured that we will continue to press this case strongly; this is not over.”