Veolia Water employees threaten strike action over pay

GMB members working for Veolia Water Central (VWC) in the northern home counties have voted in favour of strike action unless the company improves a pay offer.

According to GMB members, water companies are very profitable and the country needs profitable companies to share their profits with employees in order to kick start the economy. It is disputing the pay offer of a 2.5% increase, arguing it is well-below inflation at 5%, resulting in a pay cut for employees.

As a result, 250 GMB members employed by VWC, formerly Three Valleys Water Company, voted in an indicative ballot to call on the GMB Central Executive Council (CEC) to give authority for an official strike ballot if the offer is not improved.

The next step is for the GMB regional organiser to convey the ballot result to the employer and ask for talks to be reopened.

VWC covers parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Beds, Berkshire, Middlesex and Barnet, Finchley and Stanmore in Greater London.

GMB organiser, Mick Ainsley said that the reason for the dispute is that VWC directors gained a 52.9% increase over the past seven years, while its highest paid directors saw pay increase over the period by 109.66%.

He said: “The final pay offer was 2.5% and with inflation at 5% that’s a pay cut of 2.5%. Directors’ pay is rising well above inflation.”

In response, Veolia human resources director Keith Luxon, said: “We are naturally disappointed at the Trade Unions rejecting our pay offer of 2.5%, which given the current economic circumstances we feel is a fair one and balances our desire to offer appropriate rewards to our employees with the need to control costs and prices for our customers.

“At present there has been no ballot on industrial action and we hope that this will be avoided. However we believe that the service to our customers is paramount and in the unlikely event that the Trade Unions strike for a higher pay award we have robust plans in place to minimise any disruption to our customers.”

Carys Matthews

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