Water Chair’s ‘Forced Resignation’ Sparks Concern in Workforce

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “Alan Alexander’s resignation confirms our concern that Scottish
Water is being driven to a short term fix for political reasons. As we
warned last November, this approach will only deliver short-life assets of
poor quality and leave yawning gaps in provision. The consequences will be
an increase in internal flooding, sewer collapse and the risk of pollution.
Scottish Water has already made efficiency savings faster than the
privatised industry in England that now has to go through further increases
in charges to pay for this short-term view that is being imported to
Scotland.

“We also believe that the real agenda is a further effort to undermine the
successful Scottish public service model and privatise Scotland’s water.
All around the world communities are rejecting water privatisation yet we
have a regulatory body promoting it.”

The trade unions previously warned that Ministerial directions for massive
investment, over a short timescale, with no real charge increase, was a
‘magic circle’ that any sensible person could see would not be achieved.

They suspect that short term political demands to keep water charges down
have triumphed over the need to rebuild Scotland’s aging water and sewage
infrastructure. As the respected industry journal Utility Week editorial put
it – “It would be an act of almost criminal damage to see all the gains
Scottish Water has made over the past three years destroyed in politically
motivated cuts to water bills”.

The final determination also demonstrated the huge gap between those who
build and maintain Scotland’s water and sewage system and the Water Industry
Commission (WIC) economists, who have largely imported their ideas from the
very different, privatised system south of the border. The WIC Chair is Sir
Ian Byatt the former Director General of Ofwat who presided over the
disastrous 1999 review in England. That review left English companies short
of investment on the grounds that customers would rather have cheaper water
and fewer environmental improvements. The 2004 Ofwat review then had to
repair the damage increasing water bills in England and Wales by 18% over
the current five year period.

Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 0870 7777 006 (w) 07958 122 409 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0870 7777 006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)