ONE of Huntingdon s largest employers, Anglian Water, has announced that it is to shed 40 jobs, saying it needs to reduce costs to cope with the prolonged recession and cut customers bills. The firm, which has its head office in the town, has said 86 job
ONE of Huntingdon's largest employers, Anglian Water, has announced that it is to shed 40 jobs, saying it needs to reduce costs to cope with the prolonged recession and cut customers' bills.
The firm, which has its head office in the town, has said 86 jobs are at risk, but 46 new jobs could also be created as part of a restructuring process.
Staff in the communications department, legal department, human resources, IT, health and safety and regulation have been put at risk. Engineers at Anglian Water in Peterborough have also been told there are likely to be job losses, although the majority of jobs at risk are in Huntingdon.
A spokesman for Anglian Water said consultations with staff had begun. In the majority of cases this would be a 30-day process and employees would know their fate by Christmas.
Staff who are to be made redundant would be able to continue to work for Anglian Water until March of next year, the firm said.
While a spokesman admitted that the timing of the announcements was not ideal, it was a necessary step to take the company forward.
However, the GMB union, which represents some of the workers at Anglian Water, believes the timing will allow Anglian Water to pass some of the blame for the cuts onto the regulator, Ofwat.
The company denies that, saying the move was in part driven by the need to streamline activities after disposal of non-core subsidiaries. But the recession had also played a large part in the decision.
"Some of our customers are struggling to pay their water bills, and some corporate clients are no longer in business," a spokesman said. "So it's not the fault of Ofwat. There is pressure to bring customers' bills down, and that's good."
Ofwat will announce later this month its pricing structure for the country's water companies that will be aimed at reducing customers' bills but also allowing further investment. Ofwat indicated in July that Anglian Water will have to reduce average household bills by eight per cent between 2010 and 2015.
Its final decision will be announced on November 26 with the pricing coming into force in April of next year.
"We have to level some of this on Ofwat for not allowing [Anglian Water] to put up their prices," said a GMB spokesman. "But it is the same story: when private firms take over public companies they make our members suffer in order to keep their share price up."
He added: "The GMB, Unison and Unite are all in the same boat on this as we are not happy with any job losses.
"At the moment the losses are on the white collar side of the business and we are in the process of working out exactly where they are.
"We will do our best to help people into other jobs.