The water group of trade unions have threatened to resume the industrial action against Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) in their ongoing dispute over pensions.

The GMB, Unite, and Nipsa unions have warned that if the current proposal to amend the pension package at NI Water is not approved in full, union members will resume industrial action and not answer any out of hours calls, including emergency calls.

The deadline for the proposals to be approved by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) has been pushed back from the end of March to 13 April to allow for the impact of the Easter holidays.

Speaking to Utility Week, GMB regional officer Alan Perry said: “Clearly there needs to be an answer by then, and the whole package has to be approved, not just parts of it, by 13 April. We are clear that if that is not the case we will recommence action.”

In a statement, NI Water said: ““NI Water can confirm the industrial action remains suspended. Business cases in support of the conciliation agreement are with DFP for consideration.”

The dispute is over plans by NI Water to scrap the current pension scheme which the GMB claims will see staff needing to “work for more years for less” and cost them up to £100 per month.

Perry added the unions have not heard from NI Water or the DFP on any concerns on the new business plan featuring the pension arrangements. “There doesn’t seem to be any concerns,” he said, although he warned this could still change.

The industrial action was suspended in January so staff could consider the new proposals put forward. The action began at the end of December ran for four weeks and more than 10,000 customers had supply disruptions over the winter.

The unions withdrew from a goodwill arrangement that was struck between the parties over the Christmas and New Year period, whereby any incidents that posed a risk to public health or vulnerable consumers were dealt with, on 7 January.

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