Thursday, November 22, 2001

One of Sellafield's high-profile public figures, John Kane, is giving up his position as convenor of the GMB, the nuclear site's bigg-est trades union.

After 10 years as convenor, representing a-round 3,000 BNFL general workers, Mr Kane is relinquishing union duties to take up a new Sellafield (white collar) position.

The 46-year-old said of his GMB post: "It is the loneliest job in the world, at times you are on your own.

"A lot of people don't fully understand what the job entails and tend to blame you if things don't go their way.

"Sometimes people get personal and your family gets drawn into issues but those who come back and say 'thank you' have made it all worthwhile.

"You always get criticism. When I took over in October 1991, I had a hard act to follow in Bernard Owen and before that Bill Maxwell, but I feel I can walk away with my head held high and my dignity intact.

"I think I have done a good job. I've taken things as far as I can and it is time to put my family first."

He will take up his new job in the New Year, after conducting the shop stewards ballot to elect his successor as convenor once nominations close on December 6.

Mr Kane will become a team leader responsible for about 100 workers in the site laundry, changerooms and personal air samplers section.

The trades union fight to open Thorp along with the Gardner childhood leuk-aemia report saw father-of-two Mr Kane become one of Sellafield's best-known faces on national television.

"On many occasions I have stood in the middle between BNFL and the people who want to close us down.

"I have never been afraid to go into the lion's den because I believe in Sellafield - keeping it safe and its importance to our communities," said Mr Kane.

"The most difficult thing I have been involved in has been the Mox issue over the last two years. It put Sellafield and all our futures at risk."

Mr Kane was in the thick of helping to negotiate the new single contract designed to bring equality in pay and conditions.

"I still don't think we are seeing all the potential benefits of it," he said.

"I have always believed in partnership between the unions and the company.

"We have kept out of any industrial action over the last 10 years.

"At the end of the day it is BNFL that makes the decision, you have to do your best to influence it and get the best deal possible for your members."

Mr Kane has been at Sellafield for 27 years, working in the reprocessing plant before being elected GMB convenor.