More than 1,000 workers employed at Northern Ireland Water are to take industrial action after more than 90% backed a ballot organised the unions representing staff.
The action, coordinated by the Water Group of Trade Unions, will begin from December 22 and is in protest at attempts by the government-owned company to scrap the current pension scheme.
The strike action could affect many customers across county Armagh as temperatures continue to fall in the days leading up to Christmas.
The unions, NIPSA, UNITE and GMB have announced a campaign of industrial action including withdrawal of overtime, refusal to provide ‘on-call’ services and a work-to-rule – NI Water rely heavily on such voluntary activities and the action is likely to lead to significant disruption as repairs, including bursts, are delayed.
The Water Group of Trade Unions will meet with Danny Kennedy, Minister for Regional Development, on Wednesday of this week and will ask that the Minister intervene positively in order to avoid a dispute.
NIPSA Assistant Secretary Ryan McKinney said today: “The proposals which NI Water want us to agree will mean that all employees pay more and most employees will work longer for less than under the current scheme.
“This is in the context where over the past few years NI Water staff accepted below inflation pay settlements and more than 900 workers left under cost cutting and restructuring exercises.
“However the pension scheme remains healthy, it is affordable, and staff are rightly angry that they are expected to pay more to get less.”