The Ukrainian staff of the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) are facing “unacceptable pressure” due to demands to sign a new employment contract with Russian state company Rosatom, Director General Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said.

He noted that in recent weeks he had participated in high-level consultations with Ukraine and Russia aimed at agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible, stressing it is urgently needed to help prevent a nuclear accident. The consultations are progressing

During recent meetings, Director General Grossi raised “the increasingly difficult and challenging work conditions for the ZNPP’s Ukrainian staff.”

They are facing unacceptable pressure, he said, due to demands to sign a new employment contract with Russian state company Rosatom to keep their jobs, while national Ukrainian operator Energoatom is urging them not to do so and instead follow its instructions.

“I made clear that the staff must be allowed to carry out their vital tasks without undue interference or pressure,” the Director General said.

Earlier, one of the ZNPP’s employees told Ukrainian journalists on condition of anonymity that Rosatom is threatening Ukrainian specialists with “layoffs” if they do not sign contracts. And those who agree to draw up a contract with the Russian company are promised salaries one and a half to two times higher and additional payments. The staff was given time to think until 3 November. Those who do not switch to new contracts are threatened with having their access cards blocked.

Currently, the majority of ZNPP’s employees are refusing to sign new contracts with the Russians.

Bohdan Marusyak

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