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Friday, 01 August 2014

Sellafield jobs boost

UP to 500 new jobs are on the way at Sellafield.

The jobs are largely shopfloor posts to support the urgent decommissioning work on higher hazard areas of the site.

Energy minister John Hayes made the official announcement, saying all the jobs were new, permanent and largely meant for local people.

Ranging from process to skilled workers, they cover general operations, craft, maintenance, safety and technical specialists, health physics, systems engineers, engineers and maintenance support through to “functions” personnel.

Around 100 will be for new apprentices and technical trainees.

Copeland Borough Council leader Elaine Woodburn describes it as “a win-win” for the area.

She said: “The jobs will provide a major boost for Copeland and will help ensure the plant is dealing with the biggest hazards.

“It’s pleasing that the jobs include apprentice positions, which will help address youth unemployment concerns.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “It’s a tremendous boost. The vast majority of people in our area will be delighted as I am.

“Nuclear is not the only game in town but well-paid employment in any industry is a positive step and will help attract investment in other areas.”

Some of the 500 posts will be specifically to support the decommissioning of Calder Hall. It is hoped most of the jobs will be filled by the spring, although it will be an ongoing 12-month process.

Sellafield Ltd will now be able to bring forward more of the NDA’s crucial work in reducing high hazards on the site.

Funding to create the jobs has been made possibly through £700m-worth of efficiencies in a programme led by Nuclear Management Partners, the site’s parent body organisation.

There will be some specialist roles, but others where training will be given. The jobs will be advertised locally with the emphasis on local recruitment.

Of the 500 new Sellafield jobs, the lowest paid for those currently being advertised are for facility (process) operators (£25-£26,461) and the highest goes up to £55,000 in engineering/maintenance.

Team leaders (operations and maintenance) can get up to £38,000, with electrical/mechanical craft jobs commanding £27,000-£31,521.

Graduates on the Sellafield Ltd scheme will be paid £28,420 with students on summer and engineering industrial placements receiving £13,940 pro rata for the number of weeks worked.

There are no guarantees that all the jobs will go to local people but community leaders say they will keep a close watch to make sure it is “jobs for locals” as far as possible.

Cllr Woodburn and Mr Reed say they expect Sellafield to stick to its aim that “the vast majority of jobs are likely to be filled locally.”

The MP stressed: “I want to see as many people recruited locally as feasible. At the same time it wouldn’t be correct to employ people without the necessary skills and experience required.

“Legally no one can say that it must be a locals-only recruitment but let’s be absolutely clear, we want local skills, built-in experience used first and foremost.”

NDA chief executive John Clarke says the jobs “will make a significant contribution to accelerating clean up of the high hazard areas of Sellafield.”

Sellafield Ltd executive director Tom Foster told a press conference: “We also know from the previous track record of hiring that there are skills and personnel available in the local area.

“Based on early applications we know there are personnel available in the local area and who will be able to be hired for these jobs.”

In a statement, Sellafield Ltd’s managing director Todd Wright said: “The workforce at Sellafield is the best I’ve worked with in my career, which takes in many nuclear sites around the world, and these new additions will include some of our nuclear leaders of tomorrow.”

Energy minister Mr Hayes pointed out: “500 new jobs at Sellafield shows the immense contribution of the nuclear sector to the UK economy, in particular that of West Cumbria.”

Baroness Verma, Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy, added: “I welcome Sellafield’s moves to create these new jobs which won’t just accelerate clean-up but will be a huge boost to the economy of West Cumbria.”

Prospect is Sellafield’s biggest staff union, and site representative Peter Clements said: “The new people will be coming in to do vital work and we look forward to welcoming them. Hopefully it will be the start and a sign of things to come.

“I also hope the skills are out there locally and anyone who has what’s required will have no problem in applying for, and getting, the jobs.

“If a minimum amount of training has to be given we will be pushing for that, it’s something we will be talking to the company about.”

Craig Dobson, Unite union craft convenor at Sellafield, said: “It’s very good news for the local economy and hopefully great news for West Cumbria’s employment prospects.

“However, Unite, are in discussions with the company on both the use of local labour and craft manning levels that are employed by Sellafield Ltd.

“We’ll continue to work with the management throughout this process.”

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