Belfast Telegraph

NI Water dispute suspended as unions recommend management offer on pensions

By Joanne Sweeney

The water service trade unions have suspended the work-to-rule action ahead of putting a management offer to members.

The news will be welcomed by the 1,250 homes, farms and businesses who were still off supply this morning.

Joanne McWilliam, Unite's  industrial officer confirmed that the decision following a meeting of the The Water Group of Trade Unions (WGTU).

She said: “The WGTU is satisfied that sufficient progress has been made to allow us to consult with our members on the offer put to us.

“Shop stewards have agreed that the industrial action can be suspended to allow a consultation with members before conducting a ballot. Until this is complete, it would not be appropriate to share further detail with the media.

“The immediate focus of our members today is to work to support NI Water in restoring services to customers across Northern Ireland, particularly in the West”.

NI Water also welcomed the announcement.

Chief Executive Sara Venning said: “This is welcome news and my continued focus is now on working with our staff to restore services to all our customers.”

Beragh, Castlederg, Dromore and Kesh  in west Tyrone and Fermanagh are the areas worst affected by supply problems, with customers having to collect water from temporary tanks.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy earlier appeared before an Assembly committee emergency meeting.

He told members of his scrutiny committee that he was determined to see a successful resolution.

"My focus has always been to resolve this dispute and to address the dreadful situation people across the province find themselves in," he said.

He added: "At the end of the day the buck stops here. I'm clear about that. I have responsibilities. Others can be armchair generals if they want.

"Ultimately faced with the situation that we have, I believe that I have acted in a responsible way and I want to see this dispute resolved for the good of everybody."

Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone welcomed the agreement reached on the dispute.

She said: "It will come as a relief I am sure to those who have been affected directly.

“We must now strive to ensure that full derive is restored to all water supplies in the quickest possible time frame.”

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