News Round-Up: Strike Action, Complaints and Refunds

In this week’s news round-up, one water provider is providing refunds after flooding in July while another is racking up a worrying number of complaints. Meanwhile, strike action could be taken against one of the Big Six providers as another looks for outside investment to help a struggling area of its business.

EonSouth West WaterScottish PowerAnglian Water
Eon Looking To Outside Investment For Renewable Energy

E.ON-contact-phone-numberEon is currently hoping that investors will assist the utility provider in catching up with its rivals in Europe. The company, one of the Big Six energy businesses in the United Kingdom, is being beaten out for renewable energy supply and is unable to better invest in it as it battles with debt. It is claiming that the coal and gas power plants that it owns are being hit hard because of the huge interest for renewable energy across Europe.

The board members at Eon who are responsible for overseeing renewable energy at the company spoke of their dismay at the lack of finance to properly invest in this market. They told Reuters that its own investments are being cut by almost 30 billion Euros. Therefore, the company needs outside help to enter the green energy market where other companies are making a healthy profit.

One of these members, Mike Winkel, said: “We have a big pipeline of developed onshore projects. But E.ON can no longer meet the capital needs for these projects on its own. Therefore, financial investors are very welcome to join and it turns out they see this market as being quite attractive.”

The Spanish provider Iberdrola, which also owns the United Kingdom based provider Scottish Power, made over one fifth of its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amoritisation from renewable energy sources. It accounted for just fifteen per cent of Eon’s success. It hopes to find similar success by putting a greater emphasis on renewable energy in the future.

Complaints Mount Against South West Water

south-west-water-contact-phone-numberAccording to the Consumer Council For Water, the amount of people with a bone to pick with South West Water has increased over the last 12 months. It found that while written complaints had declined by 18 per cent since this time last year, there was an overall increase of them being directed to South West Water.

The complaints have often stemmed from the provider’s charging and billing procedures. However, South West Water claim it is due to the poor weather that ravaged Britain earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the company was quick to remind customers that their number of complaints had halved over the last five years. He said: Despite a slight increase in initial complaints in 2013/14 compared to 2012/13, largely due to exceptional weather, more than 97% were resolved first time, which represents the second best performance of all water companies.”

South West Water is not the only company to receive more complaints over the last 12 months. Affinity Water, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Severn Trent Water all saw an increase as well.

The chief executive for the Consumer Council For Water, Tony Smith, said: “Water companies and the regulator Ofwat must deliver prices for the next five years that customers can afford and find acceptable or risk a backlash from struggling households.”

Scottish Power Defends Plans To Cut Entitlement In Employee Contracts

A general view shows the main entrance to the Scottish Power owned Black Law wind farm in LanarkshireThe utility firm Scottish Power has been forced to stand up for its own plans to amend the terms and conditions on many staff contracts.

It has come under scrutiny for its decision to scrap an entitlement for many maintenance staff that allows them to earn days off from overtime work. The company says that scrapping this will make 400 workers and North Wales and Merseyside work an extra 5500 days. It also defends itself by saying that similar practices have been abolished by other companies over the last 15 years.

The energy firm was forced to defend the plans after the trade union Unite agreed to ballot its staff who are considering strike action. A spokesperson for Scottish Power said: “We have been in discussions with Unions since 2013 in relation to the removal of a flexible working pattern, known as Rostered Days Off, affecting around 400 employees of the 1,200 employees in the SP Manweb license area.

The spokesperson continued to say: “Employees’ contractual working hours and annual leave entitlement is unaffected by the change and employees will not suffer any financial loss. We did not want to end up in a situation where we have industrial action, however the business priority is to deliver investment plans and improve customer service. The additional 5,500 working days will benefit customers through increased availability of workforce and improved customer service.”

Workers whose contracts are being affected are unhappy with the decision. On behalf of them, Unite’s national officer Kevin Coyne remarked: “Unite will not accept changes to workers’ terms and conditions being imposed without proper consultation. To remove our members’ Rostered Days Off – which they are entitled to – is totally unacceptable. We have tried to negotiate with the company, but it has stubbornly refused to resolve the dispute. The union has been left with no option now, but to ballot its members for industrial action.”

Anglian Water Could Refund Flooded Residents

anglian-water-contact-number - CopyCustomers who were affected by major flooding in Canvey on July 20th may be able to claim a refund from Anglian Water.

After a month’s worth of rain fell in just an hour, the Anglian Water sewer system was unable to cope and many residents’ properties were affected by the flooding. The company claims that residents who were hit may be entitled to claim up to 50 per cent of their sewerage charges back if there was external damage to a property as a result of this.

A spokesperson explained the stance Anglian Water are taking. They said: “Any customer whose property is materially affected by sewer flooding caused by a fault on our network may be eligible to claim for a partial rebate on their bill. However, this does not apply where flooding is the result of an extreme weather event. In the case of the recent flooding on Canvey, we are one of a number of agencies responsible for drainage.”

Claims must be made within 3 months of the incident and can be done by calling Anglian Water. The money claimed could potentially be between £75 and £500 depending on each situation.

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