Members of GMB, Unite and UNISON angry over pensions

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, GMB, Unison, Unite, Pensions

Water bannerGMB, Unite and UNISON members working at Northumbrian Water and Essex and Suffolk Water are to ballot for strike action over pensions.

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.

GMB organiser Maxine Bartholomew said: “Members of the three unions consider that there are major problems with the employer over the latest pension proposals.

“Northumbrian Water was given a final opportunity to avoid a formal dispute, but failed to reconsider its position and acknowledge the strength of feeling against the proposed changes with union members voting overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action via consultative ballot.

“Contrary to claims made by Northumbrian Water, a formal ballot for industrial action will take place after consultation has concluded on 10th September 2015.

“Northumbrian Water’s attack on the Defined Benefit pension scheme is also an attack on the local economy, as members will have greatly reduced pension income to spend in their local communities upon retirement. Unions consider believe that Northumbrian Water customers would prefer this money remained in the local economy rather than being diverted offshore to foreign investors.

“Throughout eight months of consultation, Northumbrian Water has consistently failed to demonstrate the existing Defined Benefit pension scheme is unaffordable. Northumbrian Water remains a highly profitable company which generated an operating profit of £384.3 million for the 15 month period ending March 2015.

“The joint trade unions remain open to further discussions with Northumbrian Water prior to beginning to ballot their membership for industrial action on 11th September 2015.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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