Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Union anger as hosepipe ban looms

It is believed Severn Trent will announce a hosepipe ban in Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire

A leading water company has warned of an increasing likelihood of restrictions after a union said that a hosepipe ban is imminent, blaming "mismanagement" of resources.

The GMB said it believed Severn Trent will announce a hosepipe ban in Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire in two weeks' time unless there was persistent rain.

The union claimed a new computer system had led to "complete confusion" in the scheduling of repair work and dealing with leaks, leading to huge losses of water from reservoirs over the past year.

The union said it would take weeks of heavy rain for reservoirs to return to last year's levels.

National officer Gary Smith said: "Introducing the new computer system has led to water draining out of the reservoirs as the delay in fixing the leaks stretched out to 30 days, compared with the target of three days.

"The management will blame the weather and will seek to divert attention from their own mismanagement that will lead to a hosepipe ban in two weeks unless we get heavy rain. The morale of the 6,000 workers at Severn Trent is at an all-time low due to this mismanagement. A recent survey showed that only 38% of the employees think the senior managers are providing effective leadership.

"The workers have co-operated with significant management-led changes despite getting rises below inflation for the past three years. Now the management want to close the final salary pension scheme on the grounds that they cannot afford it. What a blow to a loyal workforce in this monopoly service transferred to the private sector where the executives and shareholders have gorged themselves at the expense of their customers and workers."

Severn Trent confirmed there was an increasing likelihood of water restrictions in some parts of the region, unless there was a return to seasonal average rainfall within the near future.

It said in a statement: "The situation is under constant review and no decision has been taken. Our first priority is always to maintain continuity of water supply to our customers and we will open up a dialogue with them and our stakeholders before any restrictions are proposed."

Severn Trent serves more than 3.7 million homes and businesses in a huge region from mid-Wales to Rutland and the Bristol Channel to the Humber.

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