BNFL workers land 16% pay rise in run-up to privatisation

THE 12,000-strong workforce of BNFL, the state-owned nuclear fuel reprocessor, has struck a ground-breaking pay deal in the run-up to the part privatisation of the business, guaranteeing industrial workers a 16 per cent increase over the next 18 months.

In return, staff have agreed new productivity arrangements including annualised hours and a flexible grading structure.

The key feature of the single-status deal, which was voted in by a 2:1 majority, will be the introduction of a higher basic salary. This will be achieved by consolidating bonuses and allowances into basic pay and then awarding a 3 per cent increase this year and next.

Jack Dromey of the Transport and General Workers, chief spokesman for BNFL's seven unions, hailed the deal, saying it would end "the long working hours culture".

BNFL's head of consultation and negotiation, Peter Woolley, said he expected the costs of the pay settlement to be more than financed by cost reductions and increased productivity.

As part of the agreement to privatise BNFL, the Government has set it a target of reducing costs by 25 per cent by March 2001. So far savings of 14 per cent have been achieved.

BNFL also has to meet new safety and environmental targets and to increase the proportion of profits generated by its US subsidiary to 15 per cent.

The flotation of up to 49 per cent of BNFL, slated for 2001, is expected to raise about pounds 1.5bn.

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