TWO of the country’s leading unions have voiced concerns following the launch of a government inquiry into the clean-up contract of power stations including Berkeley and Oldbury.

The termination of the £6billion contract with Cavendish Fuor Partnership to decommission 12 redundant Magnox reactors was announced by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) yesterday, sparking criticism from unions Prospect and Unite.

Business secretary Clark Greg announced that an inquiry would take place into the tendering process that led to the 14-year contract being awarded in 2014 following a High Court case that resulted in a £100million fine that will be picked up by the taxpayer.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: "This is an extraordinary situation given the scale and importance of the Magnox contract to the UK nuclear industry.

"The public, and our members, will want reassurance that the termination process, and uncertainty over the future of decommissioning, will not lead to standards deteriorating or the loss of UK expertise.

“Over the years, members have been moved from the public to private sector and back again. While this has proved politically convenient at times, it can be no surprise that treating people in this way creates resentment and confusion.”

The union added that this should serve as a wake-up call for the government to provide transparency and confidence in the contractual relationships, and that the workforce needed to know who their employers are and to whom they are accountable.

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne also criticised the contract process, saying it was “deeply flawed from the very start.”

He added: “The workers will have reduced pension entitlements and other benefits because of this financial mess. The government, through its 2016 Enterprise Act, forced through legislation designed to cut the terms and conditions of Magnox employees, including exit payments and changes in their pensions.”

Mr Coyne welcomed the announcement of the independent inquiry held by business secretary Greg Clark, but said: “However, it is clear that the ‘clean up’ contract should be taken back into public control where it should have been in the first place.”