Northumbrian Water faces service disruption as some of its workers have voted to go on strike in the ongoing pension dispute.

A 24-hour strike will start at 8am on Monday 26 October, with 44 Unite members at the Tees Dock Road sewage treatment works in Middlesbrough and the Northumberland Dock Road sewage treatment works in Wallsend downing tools.

Responding to the announcement of strike action, Northumbrian Water customer director Claire Sharp said: “We expect the majority of our 3,000 employees to continue working normally.

“Our priority will of course be to safeguard customer service and protect the environment and we have well planned resilience preparations to continue to do so. Consequently we do not expect action to impact greatly on our service to customers.

“We regret that in response to changes to our final salary pension scheme some of our union members have decided to take this industrial action.

“We are in the minority of companies being able to keep a defined benefits scheme open and we will still be providing our employees with one of the best schemes in the water industry.”

The announcement of the strike comes as indefinite industrial action short of a strike, including a call out ban and a ban on overtime, starts across all the company’s sites today featuring around 100 members of the GMB and Unite trade unions.

The dispute is over changes Northumbrian Water in planning to make to its defined benefit pension scheme.

Unite regional officer Pat McCourt said: “The 2.7 million customers of Northumbrian Water could face disruption to water supplies when schoolchildren are at home for half-term next week due to the strike action. The work-to-rule and overtime ban could mean delays to repairs of leaks and burst pipes in the weeks ahead.

“The main reason the company gave for discarding the final salary scheme was the lame one that all the other water companies were doing it – this is a pathetic excuse given this is a highly profitable company owned by one of the world’s richest men.

“The proposal to get rid of the final salary scheme should be shelved, otherwise a winter of industrial action is very much on the cards.”

The balloted workers voted by 61 per cent in favour of strike action and by 80 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

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