Tokyo Electric Power Co, the utility operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has announced that as part of the revamp of their operations, they will be doubling the pay of their contract workers. They will also be improving other working conditions at the plant, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in recent years and an understandably hazardous place to work in.
TEPCO came under much criticism once again when a report released by Reuters last month showed huge problems in the conditions of contractual workers at the plant, including skimming of their pay by unscrupulous contractors, some hired under false pretences and even contractors that had ties to organized crime. Earlier this month, some of the workers were exposed to radiation during clean-up operations. In a statement on Friday, TEPCO said they will be increasing the pay of the workers from 10,000 to 20,000 yen per day. They will also be imposing stricter policies on the contractors to avoid abuses on the workers. TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said that it is crucial to “secure a workforce”, given that they are still facing a shortage of workers for the decontamination and decommissioning process which is expected to last for decades and cost more than $150 billion.
These improvements are also part of their preparations for the hazardous and crucial operation of removing spent fuel rods from one of the four reactors at the plant. This will be the first step in the decommissioning process and something that TEPCO cannot bungle at this point or else it will cause even more damage to both the plant and their reputation. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has also told TEPCO to focus on the clean-up at Fukushima rather than putting too much effort in getting their other plant, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, online by next year.
[ via Yahoo ]