“It’s not all bad news..”

Katharine Bryan of Northern Ireland Water has said the current workforce of about 1,900 will be cut to 1,400 as part of a new strategic business plan. According to the BBC

The jobs will go over three years and will hit the firm’s industrial division as well as engineering, administration and scientific divisions.

The not all bad news?

“It’s not all bad news, it sounds a lot but in fact we have been able to transfer quite a significant number of people, almost 300, back to the civil service ahead of the new company being created”

But hasn’t that new company already been created?

“We backfilled some of those using temporary posts and at the same time recruiting to some of the new skills that we need.”

That would suggest that almost 300 civil servants have already been transferred, replaced by employees on temporary contracts, for now, with recruitment used to fill specialist posts.. which presumably those transferred weren’t able to meet the requirements for. And in the next three years 500 jobs, on temporary contracts or otherwise, to be cut.

And whilst the BBC report notes..

Northern Ireland water was set up on 1 April as a government-owned company.

It has a turnover of £400m and is investing £1m every working day to update water and sewerage infrastructure which has suffered from chronic under-investmnent.

..there this from the earlier NIO statement

8. By 2010, £614 million from Northern Ireland Water and Public Private Partnerships will be invested in our wastewater treatment and collection systems.

Although, according to the Northern Ireland Water press release [Word doc]

“Northern Ireland Water, with its key partners, will invest £928 million over the next three years.”

And from the same document

Key targets include:

• Investment of £174 million in water treatment, storage and mains improvement, together with a £110 million Public Private Partnership investment which will improve compliance with EU drinking water quality standards to 99.77% by 2009.

• Prioritising network improvements by upgrading or replacing 910 kilometres of water mains by 2010.

• Reducing leakage by 20% (this will mean leakage levels will have more than halved since 2001).

• Improving sewage compliance through investment of £492 million by 2009 in wastewater treatment and collection systems together with a Public Private Partnership investment of £122 million.

• Investing £30 million by 2014 in small wastewater works serving local communities.

Business plan summary [pdf file]

And the full business plan [15Mb Word doc file]

A reminder of a previously noted article by Eamonn McCann, “key decisions are – and, it is intended, will continue to be – taken by individuals and institutions who don’t present themselves for election to anyone”.

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  • RD

    500 less civil servants in NI can only be a good thing.

  • StarHound

    Katharine Bryan is behaving as if it’s just ‘Business as Usual’ and the water bills have been sent – I think Conor Murphy should invite her in for word in her ear.

    It would be interesting to see how the Water Service can modernise the system properly with fewer personnel. There are plenty of parts of the civil service in serious need of being slimmed down but is one of them?

    Will the Water Service end up re-hiring it’s old staff, perhaps on more generous terms, once the headlines have been got for this announcement and when the modernisation work gets going?

    I smell Management Consultants….