British Waterways

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2011 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
25 February 2011

Conference is alarmed over the developments taking place in British Waterways. Despite UNISON’s opposition the Government has gone ahead with its plan to convert British Waterways into a charitable trust, bringing to a close a proud history of public ownership and management of the nations’ canals.

However, Conference is pleased to note that the Scottish Parliament has decided against including Scottish Waterways in this uncertain endeavour and that they will be retained within the public sector in Scotland.

Conference deplores the actions of British Waterways who are continuing to attack jobs and pensions in the lead up to a transfer into the charitable sector. Following the redundancies in 2010 there has been an announcement in February 2011 putting at risk a further 70 jobs. Additionally British Waterways is planning to contract out another 70 jobs to Fountains PLC through TUPE.

It seems clear that the current British Waterways Board are more interested in providing opportunities for the private sector to take over work previously done in house and to use more and more volunteers to undertake the work previously done by full time employees. All these developments will inevitably place jobs at risk and make British Waterways a much less desirable place to work and build a career.

Conference calls on the Executive to support the Sector to:

i) Increase recruitment and improve branch organisation.

ii) Continue to defend members’ pension rights and entitlements.

iii) Ensure that members’ interests are protected through any TUPE transfers that may take place.

iv) Enforce the joint agreement on the use of volunteers so as not to undermine the position of permanent staff.

v) Negotiate with any new employer to protect members’ terms and conditions and to secure the continued recognition of UNISON.