Union members at Anglian Water are to be balloted for strike action after a pay rise was imposed on staff.

The GMB union says its dispute with the Huntingdon-based company is about a pay freeze last year and a 2.5 per cent pay increase already being paid to employees for this financial year. The union says it rejected the 2.5 per cent offer but Anglian Water imposed it and refused to negotiate at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Eamon O Hearn Large, GMB lead officer for water, accused Anglian Water of corporate greed and added: “Members voted overwhelmingly in an indicative ballot for industrial action and to move to an official ballot.

“We are currently making arrangements for the ballot and we will announce the date shortly.

“Anglian Water is a classic case of corporate greed. Anglian Water is a natural monopoly being used as a cash cow.”

An Anglian Water spokesman said: “We don't feel either union's position reflects the mood amongst the vast majority of our staff. The unions appear to want an argument about a pay review which happened six months ago.

“Our pay award this year was 2.5 per cent, plus an extra bonus of £250. All employees at Anglian Water already enjoy private healthcare and high quality pensions.

“Our own survey of all staff showed a 71 per cent positive response to this offer.

“This ballot for strike action will achieve nothing for staff, and it certainly won't help our customers either.

“It's difficult to imagine our customers would support action like this when many of them haven't seen a pay rise of any sort, not to mention a special bonus, private healthcare and a great pension.

“We know things are financially challenging for both our staff and our customers at the moment. That's why we made the offer we did, and paid the bonus that we did, so that we could support staff as well as being able to promise that we'll keep customer bills below inflation for the next five years.”