Job losses predicted as BNFL plans to cut costs

Staff at British Nuclear Fuels, the state-owned reprocessing and contracting group, were yesterday bracing themselves for news of hundreds of job losses after the company agreed to slash its costs by a quarter over the next four years.

BNFL also said yesterday it expected to conclude negotiations to merge its operations with Magnox Electric, the nuclear generator left in public ownership after last year's privatisation of British Energy, later this autumn. But BNFL repeated that it needed assurances from Magnox and the Government that the merger would not compromise the growth prospects of its existing business.

Despite signing a memorandum of understanding earlier this year agreeing the merger, John Taylor, BNFL's chief executive, admitted the talks had taken longer than anticipated.

The merger was planned after the older Magnox stations were separated from the rest of nuclear privatisation. Magnox Electric will today reveal a substantial cut in its pounds 1.3bn of future decommissioning liabilities which are not covered by investments or guarantees from the taxpayer. Its total anticipated decommissioning liabilities were almost pounds 9bn last year.

The comments came as BNFL confirmed that the cost-cutting programme, called Beyond 2000, would involve redundancies. But the company said no figures had been suggested to staff. The restructuring would save pounds 200m, around 25 per cent of BNFL's controllable costs, by 2000-2001.

Mr Taylor explained: "We haven't set a target for job numbers yet. We're going to talk this through with the workforce. Change is always difficult to deal with but there are many people across the organisation who realise we need to change."

Unions were expecting to hear further details at a joint conference with management in December. Union officials fear the reductions could mean a drop in staff numbers of up to 25 per cent. Last year BNFL's workforce shrank by almost 500, mostly through a voluntary redundancy programme.

The company yesterday revealed a 19 per cent fall in turnover for the year to the end of March to pounds 1.26bn and a corresponding 32 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to pounds 216m. BNFL said its dividend payout to the Treasury would be halved to pounds 46m. The reductions came from the planned shutdown of the Magnox fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield and lower- than-expected deliveries of Magnox fuel after problems at one of the generator's reactors.

Mr Taylor said the results, excluding the shutdown, had beaten targets, with savings of pounds 60m through BNFL's efficiency drive.

Despite the drop, BNFL's annual report showed Mr Taylor was paid a pounds 61,425 annual bonus last year. Coupled with pounds 65,163 of other benefits, his total pay, including pension contributions, rose to pounds 372,108.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral