18 Nov 2004
Water Industry Commissioner guilty of 'breathtaking hypocrisy'
UNISON - Scotland's largest utility union - attacked the findings
of the Scottish Water industry Commissioner's (WIC) Customer Services
Report published today, as grossly misrepresenting the picture,
and relying on dubious figures.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities said "Whilst
we have our criticisms of Scottish Water, there is no doubt that
it is the WIC's financial targets that have created their plan to
halve the workforce by 2006. To now claim that these cuts should
have no impact on customer service is breathtaking hypocrisy. Even
his fellow regulator - the Drinking Water Regulator - last month
pointed out that the impact of these cuts will be significant for
both staff and the public. It is impossible to cut the workforce
by half without impacting on the provision of clean and wholesome
water and the safe and environmentally sustainable disposable of
sewage. To say otherwise is to employ the logic of Catch 22.
"The WIC criticised Scottish Water for its handling of 2002's
cryptosporidium scare in Glasgow. He was particularly scathing over
Scottish Water's ability to put only 10 vans, onto the street. With
these further cuts Scottish Water will be lucky to find a handful
of staff who are able to respond to emergencies or more importantly
have the experience to prevent problems occurring."
UNISON also points out that the WIC's comparisons with England
are meaningless because they do not compare like with like, and
they ignore the additional investment in the country.
Dave Watson says: "Once again the WIC relies on unfair comparisons
and dubious figures to back up a false picture. No wonder his figures
have been severely criticised in the past by several parliamentary
committees. He has failed to recognise that the English companies
have benefited from 25 years of additional investment and had their
debt written off at privatisation. Over the past 13 years £50bn
has been invested in water and sewage infrastructure in England
and Wales. The equivalent figure in Scotland is £1bn. Scotland has
a crumbling system that is only now being addressed with a £1.8bn
"The persistent failure to recognise the achievements of Scottish
Water, and the WIC's Catch 22 approach to Scotland's public water
service, leads to the conclusion that this is really an attempt
to promote the privatisation agenda that he started in the media
a short while ago."
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Organiser - Utilities) - 07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)