Job cuts fuel security fears at nuclear plants

Job cuts fuel security fears at nuclear plants
Protesters break into Fessenheim to demonstrate how lax security is at France's nuclear power stations. Photo: AFP
Questions have been raised about future security and safety at France's nuclear plants with the country's nuclear energy Areva set to cut thousands of jobs in the industry.

Unions at French atomic energy giant Areva voiced concern over plant security on Wednesday a day after the company said it
would shed 2,700 French jobs in a two-year major restructuring amid fears that more jobs will go.

Management “are trying to play down” the losses but “there are clearly 4,000 jobs that are to go,” Michel Toudret of France's largest French trade union confederation CFDT told AFP.

The CFDT estimates that, taking into account jobs already shed since the start of this year outside the parameters of the restructuring, the firm was looking at “3,000 to 4,000 departures in France.

Areva group, with 44,000 staff worldwide, is targeting some 6,000 job losses globally, though largely on the basis of a voluntary agreement signed Monday by four of five French unions — the CFDT included.

Toudret said his union would be “very vigilant to see how plants will operate after these departures — what worries us is that those who remain will comprise a reduced staff taking on the same quantity of work” as before the layoffs.

Toudret said he was awaiting details on the future of “sensitive and critical posts” at the majority state-owned group.

Another union leader, Force Ouvriere's Philippe Launay, said it was “out of the question for us (to accept) measures placing in doubt employee security, their environment and installation security.” Launay called on management to ensure that sufficient staff are taken on to cover potential shortfalls, a measure foreseen in Monday's accord.

Pierre-Emmanuel Joly, for the CGT union — the only major union that did not sign up to the deal — said it showed the cuts were too deep and could undermine security.

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