British Energy under fire over 1,400 job cuts

British Energy, the newly privatised nuclear generator, was facing a storm of criticism last night as it confirmed that it is to cut 1,460 jobs just three months after its stock market flotation.

The redundancies, to be phased in over the next three years, will reduce staff levels by a quarter to 4,800. More than half of them will be among operating staff at British Energy's eight nuclear reactors. The remainder will be among administrative and support staff. The company has not ruled out compulsory redundancies.

John Battle, Labour's energy and industry spokesman, called on the President of the Board of Trade, Ian Lang, to apologise at the Conservative Party conference for the privatisation of British Energy. "Today we are seeing 1,460 employees lose their jobs as managers seek to make ends meet in the privatisation that never added up. This privatisation has been a short- term, desperate dash for cash to fund Tory tax cuts and we have all been the losers. Ian Lang must use his chance to say sorry."

Mike Jeram, head of energy at the white-collar union Unison, said British Energy's staff were fed up being treated as "dividend fodder" and warned that the public would want to know how the cuts would affect the future of the company's nuclear reactors.

But a British Energy spokeswoman said there was no question of safety standards being compromised. She said that most of the job cuts were part of a rationalisation programme announced in 1994 and then put on hold following the Government's decision to split the nuclear industry in two and privatise the advanced gas cooled reactor and the Sizewell PWR.

Of the 1,460 job losses, 800 will be among operating staff and 660 will be in support staff. The average number of operating staff per station will fall by 100 or roughly one-fifth. There will be 1,200 job losses in England and Wales and 260 in Scotland. British Energy's Barnwood administrative centre in Gloucestershire will be the hardest-hit site with 450 redundancies.

British Energy estimated savings of pounds 50m. The one-off cost of the restructuring will be pounds 100m which is fully covered by existing provisions.

Discussions have started with the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate about the operational aspects of the job cuts. A spokeswoman said they were far less draconian than those implemented following earlier privatisations of electricity generators.

British Energy said it had no current plans to build new stations in Britain, nuclear, gas or otherwise.

Comment, page 25

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones