23 December 2014

Industry body Pubs of Ulster has warned of the knock on effects of the industrial action over the NI Water pension dispute on the hospitality industry.  It comes after staff in NI Water began industrial action in response to a dispute over pensions.


Members of NIPSA, Unite and the GMB voted for a work-to-rule and withdrawal of on–call services and overtime as of Monday and just ahead of Christmas this Thursday.  Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster, Colin Neill, has appealed to unions and management from NI Water to reach an agreement.

He said:

“It is unthinkable and unfair if the hospitality sector is once again hit by forces beyond their control at such a critical time. Over the past three Christmases we have seen major disruption to our trade and this industrial action could result in us losing another vital trading period.

“I would urge the unions and management from NI Water to engage immediately and reach a settlement over the pension dispute. Whilst it is not our place to comment on the actual dispute, it is our members who will feel the brunt of this work to rule. We are the only business sector that will be operating at full capacity over the Christmas period and therefore the sector that has the most to lose.

“If the dispute is not resolved, many of our pubs, restaurants and hotels could see serious disruptions to their water service as a result. The impact of such a disruption at this time of year would be catastrophic, particularly when the industry relies heavily on trade over the festive period to produce approximately 20% of its turnover.

“Disruption to water services at this time could force some premises to close. This will mean many licensed premises facing a very critical first quarter of 2015, trying to get by on very poor cash flow.

“Our industry cannot withstand any further pressures at this time of year when maximising trade is a priority. We extend our full support to the NI Water management and Unions and hope they are able to negotiate an agreement as a matter of urgency before businesses are hit hard with the impacts of this industrial action.”