thames water announced today that they were no longer seeking a drought order for the london area. this is probably because we have had an incredibly rainy august and londoners have been consuming less water.
the cynic in me might be thinking that this was a nice easy way for them to hide the large job cuts that they were planning. they are talking about cutting 300 jobs a year until 2010, approximately 25% of it's workforce.
chief executive jeremy pelczer chief executive jeremy pelczer said the move had been taken to guard against "any complacency, towards customer service or efficiency, that may arise because we are a monopoly". mmm yeah i can see how that would work. the way to ensure you are not complacent is to scare the staff, the way to ensure that customer service is performed to its utmost is to make sure that there are fewer staff to take the calls and deal with problems. the way to make sure you have a handle on all the problems of your system is to make sure you have fewer people to analyse potential problems and fewer people to correct actual problems.
hell it makes perfect sense to me.
especially when you consider that thames water have been criticised for not meeting leakage targets, it only managed to cut leakage to 894 million litres a day instead of it's target of 860 million litres. this is the third year that it has not reached its target (though the trend is currently downward). fortunately it escaped a fine because it promised to invest 150 million over the next 5 years in order to replace old pipes.
ofwat said of the fine "thames has bound itself to spend an extra £150m at the cost of its shareholders to replace more ageing pipes than planned. this will directly address the issue of london leakage and achieve more secure supplies."
it is impressive that the body that is supposed to protect us from business has decided to some how dress this up as thames doing us a favour, and that when thames water invests in their infrastructure they are doing us a service...
before you feel too sorry for those poor shareholders thames have reported an increase in profits of 31% (some £340 million before taxes) and have managed to pay large bonuses to top executives.
now perhaps that is where thames should be addressing the issue of being a monopoly.
though never fear the business friendly boys of new labour had this to say, "it is right that the consumer does not bear the burden of the increased investment needed for thames to deal with its failure to meet its leakage targets." so said environment minister ian pearson, well fuck me i wouldn't expect a for profit organisation to invest in itself. what we have come to expect is that they will take the piss, that the customer will have to foot the bill for any improvements in the service, while the shareholders rub their hands in glee at the increased profits that they have received for nothing other than putting up the prices and cutting their costs but not actually improving services.
meanwhile another 1500 people will be facing time on the dole, becoming a burden on the state while they look for a new job. depending on where those cuts are made it will be a number of skilled people who are no longer working at what they do best, and more skills lost to the economy.
mind you if people like the cbi had their way there would be so little taxes paid that the state probably couldn't pay to support the increased jobless that members of the cbi create. but what do they care as long as the bonuses roll in and as long as they can keep paying their shareholders?
one of the things i never understood about the rush to shed jobs for the more competitive lower paid workers of china and india, is that if none of us have money who is going to buy all the stuff that they produce cheaply but seemingly have to sell at an inflated price (think nike here!) but again as long as those at the top are fine then that is all that matters.
lets see them outsource their jobs.
oh and the real cynic in me thinks that the reason why thames water is cutting jobs and is not bothering with a drought order is be it’s german owners, rwe, are looking to sell it and are looking to make a tidy profit.