Saturday, February 12, 2005

Alameda Tenants caught in AquaGib dispute

Taps run dry - Over 200 households were left high and dry as a result of the industrial action by AquaGib workers yesterday.

A mains pipe burst and no repairs were carried out. Management sources confirmed that every attempt for alternative repairs had been thwarted. It appears contractors had not wanted to break through possible picketing to carry out the necessary works.

The incident affected all of the Alameda Estate except Kingsway House, the northern most block, were affected from early morning. As people rushed to the shops to buy bottled water AquaGib itself was organising provision of free bottled water whilst negotiating with the union members to try and provide standpipes.

Residents feared that the water supplies may remain cut-off through the weekend into Tuesday unless there is a breakthrough in the dispute. In the morning the potable water main supplying water to the Alameda Estate developed a serious leak that caused flooding and loss of pressure and supplies to the area. By operating valves the leak was isolated and the extent of blocks affected minimised.

“It has not been possible, due to the industrial action and the picketing to effect repairs by any means. We approached the Union to allow the deployment of temporary standpipes at either side of the Estate from where tenants could draw water. Since we have not yet received a positive response arrangements have been made to make available to tenants, free of charge, 5 litre containers full of bottled water. This will be available at a centralised location in the area as from approximately 7:30 this evening,” said Manolo Perez the managing director.

Prospect

Meanwhile Prospect GGCA Union members of AquaGib say they are lending their full support to TGWU/ACTS colleagues by working to rule. Prospect GGCA said it was issuing no formal statement to the media as Industrial Action is being dealt with by TGWU/ACTS.

AquaGib puts onus on Union

Earlier AquaGib management replied to statements made by the TGWU/ACTS that stated:

“the Aquagib position to their claim is not that it is incorrect or that they are not entitled but that the company cannot afford it”.

AquaGib say that, to avoid misunderstanding on this matter, “the company does not and has never accepted that there is a direct link between the company’s pay scales and Government Industrial pay scales.”

AquaGib say that the offer made by the company provides for increases to their pay scales that not only addresses the concerns of ex-Government employees that they should earn more than similar grades in the Government Service but also provides better pay for those employees who are not ex-Government employees and who were employed by the company after the privatisation of the service.

“The offer made by the company therefore was to carry out a similar one-off adjustment to the Company pay scales as was done in the 2001 pay offer, effective as from 27 January 2005. This fully met the requirement set out by the Union in their letter of the 27 January 2005. There is therefore no implied or explicit entitlement to any retrospection. The issue of retrospection was brought up after our offer was made. Notwithstanding this, and in any case, we informed the Union that the pay offer already puts a heavy burden on the company and that we are unable to raise revenues retrospectively and therefore are unable to meet this additional demand to that made in their letter of the 27th January 2005,” said AquaGib.

They added that having rejected the company’s offer by going on strike “if the Union wants us to believe that they want to negotiate it is incumbent on them to put proposals for consideration and lift the industrial action”.

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