Emergency gas workers suffer under pay deal
Mark Leftly is political correspondent at The Independent on Sunday and associate business editor across the Independent titles. He writes a weekly column, Parliamentary Business, published on a Wednesday, that covers politics and the City. He is a multi-award winning reporter and was named Press Gazette's business magazine journalist of the year prior to joining The Independent on Sunday.
Associate Business Editor
Sunday 10 August 2014
National Grid has been accused of a “management failure” that has allegedly seen hundreds of workers left out of pocket, as the power giant’s fractious relationship with unions hits new lows.
The GMB says that a pay deal agreed for 2,000 gas emergency workers last summer has not provided the financial benefits National Grid had pledged.
The gas distribution business looks after 82,000 miles of pipeline, delivered to 11 million domestic and business customers. The emergency workers, who mend faults in the transmission grid, were moved to a more flexible, incentives-based pay structure to meet regulatory requirements. But staff in urban areas, particularly London, appear to be earning less than they did before the deal was agreed with unions, while those in rural communities seem to be doing well out of the pay structure.
The GMB’s national secretary, Gary Smith, told The Independent: “Hundreds of workers have been hit because of management’s failure to deliver their promises on this deal and we are furious.”
In leaflets sent to members, the GMB said it had “reached that deal at gunpoint”, claiming that an agreement was the only way to protect workers’ pensions, and that shop stewards had retained “huge misgivings”.
The GMB believes that National Grid intends to cut pay in rural areas to recover the losses in big cities, a move the union dismissed as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
Mr Smith told members: “Don’t be taken in by the company’s ‘good news’ rubbish. They haven’t told you the full story on their broken scheme. They owe many of you money. You can’t trust National Grid.”
A National Grid spokesman said: “We have been working with the unions to monitor implementation of the new pay framework. We are continuing to review the differences in earnings across our field force employees so we can understand any underlying issues and put in place any appropriate solutions.”
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