Gas Cuts Will Lead To ‘Explosions And Loss Of Life’

11 Nov 2012

A dramatic cut in the number of gas distribution workers ‘will lead to major gas explosions and loss of life’, the union GMB has warned. The union believes up to 3,000 workers could lose their jobs as a result of funding cuts proposed by the regulator Ofgem.

Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for energy, said: ‘If the Ofgem final proposals due in December 2012 to cut funding for gas distribution by 20 per cent for the eight years from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2021 are not changed there will be major gas explosions leading to loss of life across Great Britain.’ He said the Ofgem review ‘takes no account whatsoever of the dangers in handling the volatile and highly explosive substance. Gas main replacement will be cut and gas workers aren’t going to be able to cope with gas escapes if it gets cold.’ He said in the cold snap two years ago ‘there simply was not enough skilled labour with current labour force to cope.’ He added that subsequent discussions between Ofgem and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) seem to have been ‘forgotten’ by the gas regulator.

According to GMB, the distribution companies - Northern Gas Networks, SGN, Wales and West Utilities and National Grid - are the emergency service providers who will bear a 20 per cent cut the union believes ‘is a done deal. Jobs are already going. It will lead to up to 3,000 job losses.’ Gary Smith said: ‘This is the worst kind of short-termism in an industry that the country will depend upon for generations to keep homes warm and the lights on. Cutting distribution budgets by 20 per cent also hasn’t stopped huge hikes in gas prices for customers. We are paying more and getting a less safe industry.’