More than 300 jobs are to go by April as part of Northern Ireland Water’s efficiency drive, the company confirmed tonight.
Restructuring will include centralising services in Belfast, Ballymena, Craigavon, Omagh and Altnagelvin, with the loss of posts connected with maintenance and repair of pipes.
A total of 12 depots will shut as part of efforts to make major efficiency savings in areas like tackling sewage and leakage problems.
Managers expect 304 positions to be shed across all areas, including today’s announcement, by April.
Chris Mellor, NIW chairman and acting chief executive, said: “NI Water’s management team met with staff in depots across Northern Ireland today, following ongoing consultations with trade unions.
“During the meetings, staff were updated on the next stage in the organisation’s efficiency programme, which will see the number of regional depots reduced from 17 depots to five hubs.”
New technology has helped improve customer service and incident response times.
Workers receive instructions electronically allowing them to go directly to the area needing repair or maintenance.
Mr Mellor added: “This new model – which is comparable to those of other utility companies in NI, and other water companies in the UK – offers significant benefits for the organisation, our customers and our people. It will result in major cost savings, in terms of property, maintenance and operating costs, while offering a sufficiently wide dispersal of resources and people for major incident control.”
NIW is required to cut operating expenditure by 26.5% by 2009/10.
A spokeswoman confirmed “that 304 jobs are expected to be lost”.
A union representing workers expressed dismay.
Paddy Mackel, from the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), said: “Our staff members are extremely angry about this.
“As an individual member of staff it becomes real when it is in your area.”