19/12/2014

NI Water Supply Interruption 'Inevitable'

Union representatives have said interruptions to supplies, as well as slower responses to problems regarding NI's water network over the Christmas period will be "inevitable".

The announcement comes as hundreds of NI Water staff prepare to stage industrial action over a long running pensions dispute.

Earlier this week, members of NIPSA, Unite and the GMB unions voted to go ahead with 'work-to-rule', and the withdrawal of overtime and on-call services. Talks were then held with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy on Wednesday, but it has now emerged that the unions rejected what they said was "minor concessions" given forward by NI Water's management.

As a result, industrial action will now go ahead from Monday (22 December).

Ryan McKinney, Assistant Secretary, NIPSA, is quoted as saying: "Northern Ireland Water have 2,700 treatment works and pumping stations, so it's inevitable that there will be a supply interruption as a consequence of there being no on-call facility, no voluntary overtime and no emergency service provided.

"From Christmas Eve, there won't be staff available during the day – that service would have been provided through voluntary overtime, but those people won't be volunteering so there will be a much slower response to any faults or supply interruption."

In a statement from NI Water, the firm said: "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."

(JP/MH)

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