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Privatisation of water services equals job losses - McCartney

31 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson, Raymond McCartney has said that news that German owned Thames Water are to slash its workforce by 300 per year until 2010, highlights the reality that the thread of water privatisation will put hundreds of jobs on the line.

Mr. McCartney said:

" Thames Water has announced that it intends to scale down its existing employee base by 300 each year up to the year 2010.

"The fact that a former British public utility is in private hands as a result of privatisation shows the potential and possible shape of things to come as the water reform agenda here ploughs on.

"Week in week out we are told of investment schemes and PPP projects to upgrade outdated water and sewerage infrastructure. Yet look at the track record of Thames Water, where they have failed to meet efficiency and leakage targets. Costs have risen but the investment has not been delivered and now they are attempting to square the circle for investors by laying-off staff.

"This is what happens when public services are deregulated and become profit driven enterprises. There are no guarantees that this is not what will not happen with the planned Water Go-Co. The draft plans by the Water Reform Unit (WRU) published last week did not contain any commitment to how the protection of householders particularly if new Go - Co fails to meet its targets on Economic Leakage Level limits. In the case of Thames Water, the situation is all the more worrying, since the company experienced a marked increase in profitability of some 31%.

"Sinn Féin also believe that British direct rule ministers need to come clean current water service employees, with agreement on guarantees to ensure that we do not walk into the quick buy off and quick sell off culture and the resulting threat to jobs, lack of investment and deterioration in service.

"Despite failing to meet efficiency targets or control leakage levels, the owners of Thames Water have continued to make considerable profits at the expense of the consumers. This approach would be a disaster for local people who have seen the British government fail to invest properly in the water and sewerage infrastructure for decades." ENDS

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