Some trade union and safety representatives at Dounreay have expressed a lack of confidence in the management. They have raised concerns about health and safety at the site. Several employees informed the John O’Groat Journal that they are also anxious about how staff well-being issues are being handled.
“One worker mentioned, “Numerous staff members are on sick leave due to work-related stress, some due to bullying and harassment. Concerns have been raised, but they don’t seem to be addressed. Dounreay claims that ‘our workers are our most valuable asset,’ but based on conversations I’ve had with people across the site, this isn’t believed.”
Another employee stated, “This has been a long-standing issue for years. It’s challenging to prove in many cases, and while some instances have been dealt with, it remains a problem. Safety representatives have participated in meetings on this subject along with the chairman of the Trade Union Coordinating Committee.” Another staff member added, “Many of these concerns have been brought up for a while, and we’re becoming frustrated that they’re not being resolved. We always hope they will be, but management’s track record isn’t great.” Trade union and safety representatives have reportedly written letters expressing their lack of confidence in the current management and highlighting concerns related to staff health, safety, and well-being.
It is understood that the concerns raised encompass infrastructure issues, including leaking roofs, falling concrete pieces, and problems with fire alarms and electrical systems. Additionally, it is alleged that several employees have been absent from work due to stress, some of which may be attributed to bullying, and morale on the site is reportedly very low.
Furthermore, it has been noted that a hardship payment of £1500, which has been provided to staff at other Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) sites, has been “withheld to enhance the attractiveness of the latest pay offer of 4.5 per cent.” Willie Swanson, of the GMB union at Dounreay, remarked, “We have established processes to address bullying and harassment, and there are various avenues for individuals to report their concerns. In cases where allegations have been substantiated in the past, action has been taken. Proving such cases can be challenging but not impossible.”
Swanson added, “We encourage all individuals to come forward and report their concerns through the available channels, such as safety representatives, line management, employee support, and SafeCall, which allows individuals (or groups) to report anonymously if necessary. Over the past few years, there has been correspondence about the number of investigations taking place and a perception that management was not taking the views of representatives into account.”
Mr. Swanson also noted, “Like other parts of the public sector, Dounreay might be seen as underfunded. While we are in the process of decommissioning, this doesn’t mean that site infrastructure can be neglected – old buildings must be maintained, and that requires funding. Funding and priorities are determined by the UK government and the NDA.”
Denny Macdonald, a full-time safety representative at the Dounreay site, commented, “Our top priority is to ensure that Dounreay remains a safe working environment for all employees. Recently, we have needed to raise several concerns related to health, safety, and staff well-being. We are currently in ongoing discussions with management to address these concerns promptly.”
The claims were presented to other union representatives at the site and management for their comments. Earlier this year, Dounreay faced allegations of unfair treatment of lower-paid staff and a perceived lack of action on their concerns regarding pay, pensions, and bonuses. However, at the time, a spokeswoman for the site emphasized that all staff members are valued as “they are our most valuable asset” and that without them, the site’s mission of decommissioning could not continue.
Source: John O’Groat Journal