About 2,000 workers at the Savannah River Site near Aiken will begin furloughs next month, according to the contractor that oversees cleanup work at the former nuclear weapons complex. Other employees will see their work hours reduced to zero.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) notified employees of the impending reductions on Monday. President and CEO Dwayne Wilson says workers will be told by March 15 if they are among those affected. The company blames federal budget cuts that were worsened by the sequester,
“We decided that we would implement a reduced work schedule beginning April 1,” SRNS spokeswoman Barbara Smoak told South Carolina Radio Network, “What that means is approximately 2,000 employees will be impacted and will go to a reduced work schedule.”
Smoak said most of those employees’ work-weeks will be reduced from 40 hours to 32 hours per week. Some workers will have to take “full furloughs,” which means the employee will not technically be laid off but will not be assigned any work hours, either. Those employees who are to be on “full furlough” will be notified next week, the company said. Smoak said those employees would likely come from projects halted or suspended due to the budget cuts. But the company has not yet said what those projects would be.
Smoak said SRNS was already experiencing budget cutbacks even before the automatic federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” took effect last Friday. However, she said sequestration “compounded the issue.”
Officials say they don’t know how long the reductions will be in place.