Wednesday, February 16, 2005

AquaGib ‘can meet our demands’ say Workers

* Action could escalate

AquaGib workers pounced on management claims that “water cannot be squeezed out of a stone” and turned to the Registry of Companies yesterday to search the company’s financial statements.

And TGWU/ACTS went on to blame management for the continued strike action saying it had “not indicated a willingness to negotiate a settlement of the dispute”. They said the dispute will escalate but did not state how.

Although no firm decisions have been reached yet, union officials have not ruled out calling on other sectors to take action in support of the AquaGib workers. The focus would most likely be on the electricity and port sectors.

AquaGib is 33% owned by Government and the remainder to the stock exchange listed Northumbrian Water Group. The statement for the year ending March 2004 shows a gross profit of £1,966,647 an operating profit of £519,423 and a dividend of £400,000. The previous years dividend was £630,000 and the union says these figures show that the company is “very healthy” and that it can afford to meet their claim.

The union said it had unofficially attempted to find a way out of the dispute but accused the company of intransigence. They said they regretted the inconvenience to tenants - pipes at the Alameda estate remained dry - and said management was to blame for not wanting to assume responsibilities to the workforce.

The AquaGib strike has now affected the Vineyards Estate, neighbours confirmed to the Chronicle last night. At least one block Merlot House has been without water for much of yesterday. Meanwhile it is understood that Chief Minister Peter Caruana will be holding talks with members involved in the AquaGib dispute later today.

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