British Energy seeks pay freeze and lower pension benefits

British Energy, the nuclear electricity generator, is attempting to introduce a pay freeze and reduce pension benefits as part of a cost-cutting plan expected to see the workforce cut by up to 500.

The generator said yesterday that it had decided to extend its efficiency programme to cover all aspects of the business in a move that is likely to produce savings of at least £50m.

Initial measures include the relocation of its headquarters from Edinburgh to East Kilbride and the closure of six visitor centres at nuclear power stations, saving £2m. The pay freeze, if agreed with unions, would save a further £13m a year.

British Energy is already cutting the jobs of 250 support staff, and the additional cost-saving measures could see that number double over the next two years.

In January the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate ordered the company to stop job cuts among engineering support staff on safety grounds. A spokesman said the additional job reductions would fall across all parts of the business, but Peter Hollins, the chief executive, stressed that they would have absolutely no impact on the safe operation of its power stations. "Safety is now and will always be our number one priority," he said.

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