Belfast Telegraph

Work-to-rule amid NI Water dispute

More than 1,000 workers at Northern Ireland Water are to take industrial action in a row over pensions.

Members of Nipsa, Unite and GMB voted for a work-to-rule that would see the withdrawal of overtime and on-call repair services.

The action will begin on December 22 unless Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy can resolve the dispute.

Ryan McKinney, from the union Nipsa, said: "The proposals which NI Water want us to agree will mean that all employees pay more and most employees will work longer for less than under the current scheme.

"This is in the context where over the past few years NI Water staff accepted below inflation pay settlements and more than 900 workers left under cost cutting and restructuring exercises.

"However the pension scheme remains healthy, it is affordable, and staff are rightly angry that they are expected to pay more to get less."

They are due to meet Mr Kennedy tomorrow to discuss the issue.

The ballot for industrial action was overwhelmingly endorsed, with 90% of union members voting in favour, according to the unions.

Mr McKinney added: "There hasn't been industrial action in the water service in many years but staff have voted overwhelmingly to take this step and all three unions are committed to supporting water workers.

"No-one wants to see action such as this, particularly at this time of year, but staff are saying enough is enough."

NI Water has so far declined to comment.

Later, NI Water said it was committed to resolving the issue and would strive to mitigate any potential impact on customers.

A statement said: ''NI Water has a committed workforce and has worked with trade unions to deliver significant service improvements over the past seven years.

"We fully recognise the rights of employees to consider industrial action but regrets such action has been called at this time. NI Water remains committed to trying to resolve the issues at hand and continues to offer ongoing engagement with TU colleagues.

"We can assure the public, however, that the provision of safe, clean drinking water and wastewater services remains a priority for the company and its staff who will continue to work to mitigate any potential impact on customers.''

It is understood not all union members voted in the ballot.

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