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Utilities Water workers to strike over bosses' grab on pensions

MORE than 1,000 water workers in north-west England are to strike to defend their pensions after three unions joined forces in the dispute.

Members of Unite, Unison and Prospect are taking on bonus-fed fat-cat bosses at United Utilities (UU) and will strike for 24 hours on Friday and next Monday.

From Friday, they will also ban overtime, refuse call-outs and suspend an advice service to councils until March 24.

UU, which made a £650 million profit last year, plans to replace the workers’ pensions scheme with a worse one.

The unions say the change will cost pensioners thousands of pounds in retirement.

The new scheme comes into effect on April 1.

Unison north-west regional organiser Vic Walsh said the company was making “an unnecessary and unjustified grab” on a financially healthy pension scheme.
 
“UU has paid out more than £1.25 billion to shareholders over the past five years and has a target of increasing its dividend payments each year by at least the rate of inflation,” he said.

Mr Walsh pointed out that the company had paid its chief executive Steve Mogford £2.8m last year.

Unite regional officer Graham Williams said: “All we are asking for our members is a pension arrangement in line with the 21st century. That’s not unreasonable and the company can afford it.”

He said water supplies would deteriorate, “hitting UU in the wallet.”

The company said it was “disappointed” that the workers were taking action and claimed that the cost of the scheme was becoming “unsustainable.”

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