Huge pay divide between those at top and bottom in water industry, warns UNISON

An analysis of pay at the UK’s 19 water companies has revealed a chasm between those at the top and those at the bottom of the wages league, says UNISON today (Tuesday).

The union has been pushing for a living wage to be paid across the entire UK water industry through its Making Waves for the Living Wage campaign.

UNISON wants pay improved for thousands of water company employees and contractors who are struggling to survive on less than the living wage of £8.25 per hour (£9.40 in London).

Some water companies like Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water and Scottish Water have done the decent thing and now pay the living wage, says UNISON. But many still do not including Thames Water, Anglian Water and Wessex Water- and appear to have no plans to do so.

Thames Water and Anglian also award their highest paid directors more than £1m a year as do United Utilities, Severn Trent and Southern Water.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Water companies are making huge profits, and paying their top executives massive salaries.

“They could easily afford to start paying their lowest-paid employees a proper living wage. This is the very least that workers in the water industry deserve.

“Our campaign wants to end this stinginess, and see at least a living wage paid throughout the industry.”

Earlier this year, UNISON wrote to the boards of the UK’s water companies asking them whether they were planning to become living wage employers. As a result of the union’s approach, some are now talking to the Living Wage Foundation about becoming an accredited living wage employer. UNISON intends to keep up the pressure on those companies who have yet to make any move towards paying the living wage.

Notes to editors:
–       UNISON’s campaign is for the real living wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation, not the Chancellor’s rebranded national minimum wage. Crucially, companies need to include contracted out workers – who are often the lowest paid – to become an accredited living wage employer.
–       Six water companies have already signed up for the living wage accreditation: South East Water, Yorkshire Water, Northumbria Water, Scottish Water, Dee Valley Water, and Sutton and East Surrey Water.


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