Union campaigns to get workers on water boards

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The Independent Online
EMPLOYEES' leaders at the 10 privatised water companies this week launch a novel campaign to get workers elected to boards.

Part of the motive is to call the bluff of senior managers who have been arguing publicly for greater employee involvement in the operation of the businesses, but the employees also want to make the companies more 'customer and worker friendly'.

The initiative by the GMB general union begins on Wednesday at the annual meeting of North West Water, where 4,000 employee shareholders have nominated the union official David Murphy for the board. Mr Murphy is the union's senior negotiator at the company. Similar moves will be made at the Thames AGM on 28 July and the Anglian meeting a day later.

At the AGMs union members will be calling for cuts in the salaries of senior executives and urging present board members to accept new increases at 'justifiable' levels only.

Worker-directors would also call on the companies to circulate regular reports on water quality and environmental improvements to customers.

The companies should also make much faster progress in meeting European Community rules on pollution, the union believes.

Employees' leaders are also calling for speedier reconnections for customers who have previously defaulted on bills, and a more coherent and enthusiastic approach to training staff and improving their skill levels.

Eddie Newall, the GMB's national energy officer, argued that it was time the privatised water companies became more accountable to both their customers and their workers.

'This campaign will not go away,' he said. 'We intend to nominate employees as directors in all 10 companies. We will not rest until we have got a representative on every board.'

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