Is VS in the water industry the answer?

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2015 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
23 February 2015
Carried as Amended

The present system of outperformance as practiced by most of the water companies in the UK industry is unsustainable and dangerous to both those working in the industry and the general public. To make more money for our owners the companies keep reducing the workforce either by redundancies, restructures or by leaving vacancies unfilled and spending only what is absolutely necessary on new assets and repairs.

As union reps we should be committed to saving jobs. When we agree to voluntary severance we collude with the employer to an extent although our intention is for the greater good. Voluntary severance (VS) where the colleague leaves but the work associated with the role stays does us no favours at all and helps mask the true number of colleagues who have left the industry. We are a highly profitable industry and redundancy situations are initiated to make more profit and not to enable a struggling company to survive.

Whilst most reps will readily admit members are queuing up to leave our companies and want our help to do so, should we accept VS is right or should we fight all job losses regardless of how unpopular this proves to be amongst our own members? Otherwise our numbers will continue to diminish and pressures mount onto those colleagues left in the industry who are picking up what was their day job and the extra work from the colleagues who have left on VS. So should we insist our companies use compulsory redundancies only? Isn’t our responsibility to the member who will be left picking up the workload of higher weighting than our responsibility to the member who wishes to leave?

To request the WET Service Group Executive to consult regional WET SGE’s and branches with members employed in the water industry on the use of voluntary severance in the water industry and to report back to the 2016 WET conference on its findings.