Water workers set to strike

Activity at the Franklaw Water Treatment plant on Catterall Lane, Garstang, after news of water contamination
Activity at the Franklaw Water Treatment plant on Catterall Lane, Garstang, after news of water contamination
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Workers from United Utilities, the company at the centre of Lancashire’s water contamination, are set to strike for 27 hours starting today over proposed changes to their pension scheme.

In August, more than 300,000 householders were told to boil their water before drinking it to avoid Cryptosporidium, a parasite which causes diarrhoea and stomach cramps, after the contamination was discovered at Franklaw water treatment plant near Garstang.

And the plant is one of many which will see GMB members strike from 5am this morning until 8am tomorrow following the long-running dispute.

Eddie Parker, GMB regional officer, said: “GMB would like to stress we are in dispute with the managers and shareholders of UU and not customers. GMB has agreed an escalation process should there be a major incident during the course of industrial action.”

The union claim United Utilities want to save money by introducing changes to the defined benefit pension scheme.

And last month 82 per cent of members voted to take part in the industrial action “to ensure the company gives an undertaking to make no changes to the scheme without negotiations.”

During the dispute there will be picket lines at 18 Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) including the Franklaw plant, Blackburn WWTW in Samlesbury and the Whitebull WWTW near Grimsargh.

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that GMB has decided to ask its members to walk out for a day but we have plans in place to make sure that our services to customers are not affected. We continue to want to resolve any differences by talking, as we have always done.”