Britain’s largest union, Unite, accused Anglian Water of seeking to provoke strike action today (Friday 9 March) after the water company refused to enter talks at the conciliation service Acas over the closure of its final salary pension scheme.

Over 5,000 workers at Anglian Water are affected by the pension scheme’s proposed closure, which could see some losing up to £100,000 should the new planned defined contribution pension scheme fail to deliver. A further 3,700 workers are affected by proposed changes to a separate existing defined contribution scheme.

Unite along with the GMB and Unison held a last ditch meeting with Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson yesterday where the water boss refused a request to meet at Acas to resolve the brewing dispute.

Anglian Water, which goes by the motto ‘love every drop’, serves water to the biggest geographic area of any water company in England and Wales and paid just over £320 million in dividends to shareholders in 2016/17. During the same period it paid no corporation tax and instead received a £100million tax credit from the taxpayer because of interest payments on intercompany loans.

Meanwhile Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson received a total pay and pension package of £1.5 million in 2016/17 and £2.3 million for the year before. This year, Anglian Water’s four top executive directors are on target to be remunerated to the tune of £3.7 million.

Commenting Unite regional officer Adam Oakes said: “Anglian Water bosses are pocketing millions in pay while hiking up bills for customers and attacking the hard earned pensions of workers.

“Rather than entering into talks, management is trying to railroad through pension changes which could see some lose up to £100,000 in retirement income. The offer of a derisory £600 in compensation, at a time when Anglian Water is paying out millions to shareholders, is an insult to a loyal workforce.

“Pensions are workers’ deferred wages enabling them to provide for themselves and their loved ones in retirement. We would urge bosses at Anglian Water to stop seeking confrontation and start listening to its workforce by engaging in talks with the trade unions at Acas.”

ENDS

For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.

Notes to editors:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.