The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and British Nuclear Fuels are currently consulting the professional union Prospect on the criteria to be followed before companies are allowed to compete for BNG contracts or in the event that the group - responsible for decommissioning UK nuclear sites - is sold by BNFL.
Submitting the union’s criteria for assessing future ownership options to the NDA and BNFL, Mike Graham, Prospect National Secretary, summed up the views of 6,000 scientists, engineers and professional staff in BNG:
"We are against the sale on public interest, industrial and safety grounds. We have already set out our preferred option of a Public Private Partnership which would meet the government’s aims without the risks of a sale."
But Prospect recognises that BNG sites face competition, said Graham. "We are determined to ensure that any future BNG owner is a good employer with a track record that can be trusted. The nuclear industry is safety-critical and will not accept anything less.
"Our criteria are based on what BNG does now. Our members will not accept any reduction in the standards expected of management and staff compared to what they are required to deliver today.
"In the fields of health, safety, security and environmental performance, these are genuine matters of public concern. But issues of change management and industrial relations will also be vital for our members and the future of the new organisation."
Prospect will argue strongly for investment by any new owner in facilities as well as people so that BNG maintains its innovative edge. This will mean working with Sector Skills Councils on future skills needs and helping people already in the industry to adapt and reskill as necessary, working jointly with trade unions.
Prospect represents more than 6,000 scientists, engineers, managers, administrative and support staff at the 13 BNG and Magnox reactor sites. It has 104,000 members in the UK and is the largest union in the nuclear industry.