Use of consultants and day-rate contractors in the Water Industry

Conference notes that water and wastewater companies are increasingly using very expensive consultants and contractors – some on day-rates as high as £1,000 or more. This is especially prevalent in the run up to each five-yearly Price Review, the current one being towards PR19. The reasons given by the companies include: a. the low number […]

Support Leeds H21 Project – Hydrocarbon

UNISON welcomes the partnership between UNISON employers Northern Gas Networks and Leeds City Council together committed to pursuing the conversion of Leeds to a 100% hydrocarbon city. Converting the UK gas grid to hydrogen will be a major step towards meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets. Currently, over 30% of all UK carbon emissions come […]

Npower and SSE Merger

UNISON Energy Conference notes with cautious concern the proposed merger of SSE and Npower which will see the Big 6 energy suppliers become the Big 5 and the merged company holding 12.7 million customers combined. Conference we note also the SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies claiming that the merger will create a new model – […]

Zero hours and Black workers

Recent news has reported that the number of people that are unemployed has hit a record low. What these statistics do not report is that a large proportion of this is due to the increase in zero hours contracts. Employers have increasingly been turning to zero hours contracts as part of the general attack on […]

The UK is facing a future of Water Deficits – Is Re-Nationalisation the only sensible answer?

Conference notes that research for the Adaptation Sub-Committee’s (ASC) 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment evidence report considered a range of possible scenarios to assess water availability in the UK up to the 2080’s. The research, by consultancy HR Wallingford, considered differing levels of climate change, population growth and efforts to adapt to the impacts of […]

The role of markets in delivering Water Services

Conference notes that Ofwat in their publication Water 2020 have declared an intention to look to promote markets to deliver services in Water Resources and Bio-resources. Following the collapse of Carillion and the ramifications on public services is it not clear that a ‘markets’ based strategy could have similar devastating consequences for both the public […]

WET e-learning – is it up to the Job?

Quality training and development is important to our members. Yorkshire Water recently closed its training centre in favour of pushing more e-learning onto desktop PCs in the workplace. The list of benefits to WET companies is endless. Massive cost savings are achieved by closing training centres, no course materials, no travel time, less work disruption […]

Health and Safety Reps standby

This conference notes the ever-increasing need for safety improvements in the WET sector. Yorkshire Water Branch would like the sector to adopt the approach being taking at Kelda where we have formed a health and safety representative’s standby rota. It has been designed for union health and safety reps to get called out to investigate […]

The push for upper quartile – The ignored impact on employees

As conference will be aware Ofwat is pushing forward it’s vision for the water sector commencing in 2020. A major part of this is to push competition between the water companies harder than before. The phrase ‘upper quartile’ in now bandied about as the place to be and those who are not ‘upper quartile’ will […]

The Push towards Homeworking – ‘Good or Bad’?

Conference is aware that homeworking has increased substantially in recent years and is only going to continue in the future, as sector WET companies continue to cut overheads, save space, encourage flexible working and require an agile workforce. Yorkshire Water are currently encouraging their workforce (office based) to consider working from home at least 1 […]

Equality e-Learning within WET companies

All employees regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and any disability are to be treated equally and have equal access to opportunities. They must have a sense of belonging at work. They must feel respected and valued for who they are and have a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that they […]

Local Government and Devolution

Conference notes the ongoing devolution agenda across the UK nations – at national, regional and local government levels. While there are some welcome national government developments in relation to the Trade Union Act, health and social care integration and the treatment of the public service workforce in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are concerns […]

Disabled Workers at the Sharp end of the Housing Crisis

Conference notes the depth and scale of the housing crisis the UK is facing, a crisis that has been gathering for decades but which has reached a crescendo with the Conservatives’ ideological war on council housing. Thousands of UNISON members delivering housing services have seen their employers change from local authorities to housing associations and […]

Protecting Education Support Workers’ Terms and Conditions Post Brexit

Along the 310 mile soft border on the island of Ireland a number of Northern Ireland schools attract pupils and workers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In some circumstances the journey to and from their workplace is only a few miles. UNISON members working in support services in these schools have […]

Youth Services Essential in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland youth services are provided by a combination of statutory and voluntary resources. A budget of £38 million from the NI budget and administered by the education authority underpins these resources. UNISON members working across both sectors have been involved in discussions responding to a major review of youth services. Statutory services are […]