Belfast Telegraph

South West Water workers to take industrial action over pay row

Workers at a water utility are to take industrial action for the first time in 30 years in a long-running dispute over pay.

Members of the GMB trade union will begin a continuous overtime ban from midnight at Exeter-based South West Water.

Union members rejected the company's offer of a 1.8% pay rise as well as an eleventh-hour offer of a one-off payment of £120 per employee.

GMB officials accused South West Water of trying to undermine the industrial action but the firm said there would not be "any noticeable impact on services".

Regional officer Katherine Darcy said: "It is regrettable that South West Water appears to be concentrating their efforts on undermining the lawful industrial action of our members rather than trying to resolve this dispute.

"This is a workforce that has been loyal and hardworking and hasn't taken any industrial action for 30 years.

"The position the company appears to be taking with our members will only harden their resolve and make it harder in the long run for this dispute to be settled.

"We remain open to talks with the employer at any time to resolve this dispute but GMB will not stand idly by while our members are treated poorly."

South West Water said in a statement: "We don't expect there to be any noticeable impact on services in light of the decision by some union members to take industrial action by limiting overtime for unplanned or emergency work.

"Our priority is to continue supplying good, safe drinking water to all our customers and continuing to treat waste water to the highest environmental standards.

"Contingency plans have been developed to ensure that our statutory service continues as normal."

A spokeswoman added: "We believe the pay award for 2015/16 is a fair and reasonable settlement and look forward to progressing overdue discussions with the trade unions on this year's settlement."