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Statement on Industrial Action

19 December 2014 15:36

NI Water has warned that, unless the planned industrial action by Trade Unions is averted, customers could be severely impacted, suffering lengthy interruptions to their water supply over the Christmas period.  They also said that there is a significant risk that the quality of discharges from wastewater treatment works to water courses will be adveresly affected.

NI Water CEO Sara Venning said: ''Whilst I am determined to remain engaged with Unions to try and avert this industrial action, I am concerned regarding the consequences for the public if it does proceed.

''We will take all possible steps to mitigate any potential impact to customers, including seeking assistance from contractors and other agencies as well as invoking our Mutual Aid arrangements with other utilities and UK water and sewerage companies.  Despite this, however, in the event of Unions not allowing their members to provide the normal cover in emergency situations over the Christmas period, we will have very limited in-house resources to operate and maintain our water and wastewater assets and infrastructure.

''The likely impact we will have to deal with as a consequence of this would include:

  • Problems at our Water Treatment Works over the Christmas holiday period, with potential deterioration in water quality;
  • Customers in some areas may experience interruptions to supply and intermittent problems with their water pressure;
  • Discharges to watercourses from some of our large Wastewater Treatment Works are likely to be adversely impacted;
  • Customers are likely to encounter delays in response to problems that they report, including flooding, bursts and supply interruptions.

''I do recognise the right of employees to participate in action, but I have made it clear to Unions that it is not in the gift of NI Water to defer pension reform.  All that will be achieved by undertaking industrial action at this time is to cause distress and potential hardship to the public.  I would appeal to Unions to consider the suite of proposals which have already been put on the table and which I feel present a fair and equitable outcome for their members, particularly at this time of budgetary pressure across the public sector.''

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