GMB Protest At Northern Consumer Council Meeting Over Profiteering And Cuts To Jobs And Pensions In The Industry.
What we are dealing with are profitable monopolies benefitting from guaranteed incomes seeking to maintain profit margins by cutting back even more to the detriment of customers says GMB.
GMB members employed by United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water and Hartlepool Water will be attending Water Industry Consumer Council Northern Region meeting in Leeds on Thursday 26th November to raise concerns over profiteering and cuts to jobs and pensions by private sector owners of this monopoly industry.
Industrial action is underway at Northumbrian Water since 20th October over changes to the terms and benefits of its final salary scheme. The company claim that the current final salary scheme is unaffordable. However the trade unions have said that Northumbrian Water has consistently failed to show costing to back up their arguments.
At United Utilities GMB is consulting members over proposals on the closure of the United Utilities Defined Benefit Pension Scheme for active members as of 31 March 2016. The scheme was closed to new entrants in 2006.
The Consumer Council for the Water Industry Northern Region public meeting will be held on 26th November at The Queens Hotel in Leeds from 10.15am - 3.00pm.
Eamon O Hearn, lead officer for the Water Industry, said “The agenda will include an update from United Utilities on its compensation pay-out to more than 300,000 customers in Lancashire, who were advised to boil their tap water for several weeks after traces of cryptosporidium were found in supplies.
GMB members attending the meeting make clear that what we are dealing with are profitable monopolies benefitting from guaranteed incomes, seeking to maintain profit margins at the expense of cutting back even more on staffing and pensions to the detriment of customers.
In particular they will draw attention to the following points:
Customer bills up 40% since privatisation;
Debt levels up over 100% since privatisation; Northumbrian in particular has borrowed huge amounts of money to maintain profits and pay down debt (UK Parent Holding Company gearing is 98% inc Shareholder Loans), rather than invest it's own money.
Hundreds of millions of pounds tax windfall in last 5 years; Northumbrian and United both experienced significant tax windfalls over the past 5 years, £146M and £226M respectively.
Dividends outstripping profits;
Pensions down 40%;
Staff numbers down though National Audit Office report says that there are few efficiencies left in the industry following privatisation.
Our members are just looking to maintain their current reduced pensions, not enhance them at customers' expense.”
Contact: Eamon O Hearn 07918 777097 or for United Utilities Eddie Parker 07740 804046 or Northumbrian Water - Maxine Bartholomew GMB Organiser 07870 176742 or 0191 233 3930 or GMB press office 07921 289 880.