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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 December 2015

Water workers protest against pension attacks

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Around 40 water workers and supporters protested outside the Queen's hotel in Leeds on 26 November where the Northern Consumer Council was holding a meeting.

The workers - GMB members from United Utilities, Northumbrian Water, Yorkshire Water and Hartlepool Water - were angry at the rampant profiteering of the companies which have seen debt levels and consumer prices rise and are attacking workers' pensions at two of the companies.

I spoke to workers from United Utilities who told me that after the company conducted a regrading exercise a few years ago they had promised in the future to consult with the trade union and workforce more widely in the future.

Yet as a result of a recent cryptosporidium (a parasite which causes severe diarrhoea) outbreak, the company has had to pay out compensation to 300,000 customers.

Understaffing

Despite union reps raising the issue of understaffing in the company over a period of time, it has taken action by the regulator to force the company to take on the extra staff needed. But to pay for this, United Utilities is planning on closing its defined benefit scheme.

A dispute is also underway at Northumbrian Water where the company is attacking the final salary pension scheme.

Water provision, a vital public service, should never have been privatised.

Socialists argue for the renationalisation of the water companies, under the democratic control and scrutiny of the local and national population.

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In The Socialist 2 December 2015:


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