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Strike Ballot Over Water Pension Cuts

Monday, July 27, 2015

GMB To Ballot Members In Water Industry In North East And Eastern England In Dispute Over Pensions Cuts

Northumbrian Water returned approximately £630 million profit back to the Hong Kong based owners CKI in the last two years so there is no need for these cuts says GMB.

GMB, the union for water workers, is to undertake a consultative ballot of members employed by Northumbrian Water and its subsidiary companies in a dispute over pensions.

GMB will ballot members in the North East and members in Essex and Suffolk Water who are owned by Northumbrian Water.

Northumbrian Water supplies 2.7 million people in Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside as well as the counties of Durham and Northumberland and parts of North Yorkshire. Essex and Suffolk Water supplies 1.8 million people in southeast Norfolk, east Suffolk, Essex and the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Discussions have been taking place since the early part of 2015 but no progress has been made.

Maxine Bartholomew, GMB Regional Organiser, said “Northumbrian Water want to change the terms and benefits of its final salary scheme. Unions are now undertaking a consultative ballot which could result in a formal ballot for industrial action.

The company claim that the current final salary scheme is unaffordable.  However the trade unions have said that Northumbrian Water have at each stage consistently failed to show costing to back up their arguments.

The BBC recently reported that Northumbrian Water returned approximately £630 million profit back to the Hong Kong based owners Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI) in the last two years so there is no need for these cuts.

CKI gave assurances to the regulator OFWAT and the Trustees of the pension scheme that it was fully committed to fully safeguarding pension entitlements.

CKI are just wallowing in greed.  Shareholders and offshoring are being put before pensioners. A product that falls from the sky naturally should not be abused in this way.”

Pat McCourt, Organiser for Unite, added “What is happening is a scandal.  While massive profits are being sent back to China, thousands of loyal workers in Northumbria Water face poverty in their later years.”

Ends

Contact: Maxine Bartholomew GMB Organiser North East on 07870 176 742 or Mick Ainsley East of England 07974 250947 or GMB press office 07974 251 823 or 07921 289880

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