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Power troupers mark 40 years’ service

Power workers who have helped to keep the lights on for 40 years have had their long service recognised by their employer UK Power Networks.

From Press releases - 11 October 2018 12:00 AM

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From a director to linesmen, cable jointers, substation fitters, lorry drivers, mapping technicians, safety advisers, engineering leaders, project managers, designers, finance and transport workers they have dedicated their working lives to delivering electricity.

Together they have completed over two millenniums of public service on the electricity networks that deliver power to over eight million homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.

Starting work in 1978 they have witnessed an industry experiencing everything from privatisation and ownership buyouts to the devastation of the 1987 hurricane, growth in electricity demand and the industry’s most exciting changes in a generation as it moves to provide a ‘smart grid’ to enable people to benefit from latest technology.

They have all been rewarded by UK Power Networks, at a special 40+ Club celebration for giving 40 years of continuous service to the company which keeps the lights on across the South East, London and East of England.

Chief executive Basil Scarsella, presented them with awards, thanking them for their service. He said:  “It’s incredibly important to recognise and celebrate the dedication and expertise of our employees, especially those who have served our customers and communities for a long time.  As an employer of choice we are always looking for ways to improve and I think some of the best ideas often come from our most experienced staff.”

The average tenure of UK Power Networks’ 6,000 employees is just under 15 years and over half of its workforce have over ten years’ service. Sarah Porcelli, head of learning and development at UK Power Networks, said: “I believe people stay with us for so long because we are an ‘employer of choice’, we provide opportunities for developing a career over their working life, continuous training opportunities, strong job security and we are constantly reviewing our huge range of employee benefits.”

There are 471 employees in the 40+ Club at UK Power Networks, a firm named in the Sunday Times Top 25 Best Companies to Work for four years running as a result of staff surveys. In addition, the company is also celebrating 18 employees having over 50 years’ continuous service.

The company’s longest serving employee is linesman, Rod Lewry, who is 70, from Dover. He said: “I count myself lucky to have reached 70, still be in reasonable health and do a job I still enjoy. If I packed up work I’d need to do it gently because after 55 years of going to work every day it will come hard. I’m still doing a physically demanding job and although it’s not often, for safety reasons, I can still use my climbing irons to get to the top of an electricity pole. I don’t have to sit at the top of the pole for hours, like I did when I was a young man when there were no cherry-pickers or elevated platforms and all climbing was done with ladders and spikes.

“I did 43 years of standby shifts and towards the end of it, at 3am, in the middle of a gale, stuck out in a remote field, I started to wonder what I was doing. That’s a job for the younger ones. I enjoy my job, love the countryside and rural areas we work in and I get on well with people. Why change a job from something you are happy in, to go into something you might not be happy in?

“I have always been a doer. If I’m managing an overhead line repair after a storm, when everything is broken and on the ground you cannot fix it alone, you need the camaraderie with your team to get it back up. If you do a good job as a linesman you can see it, and it could be there for another 60 or 70 years, so I have left something good behind.

“The company is good, otherwise people wouldn’t stay. The health and safety regime is the top of the agenda here and nobody would argue with that.”

To find out more about careers at UK Power Networks visit the website: http://www.ukpowernetworkscareers.co.uk/careers/

Back to the year 1978:
• Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby was born in England
• Winter of Discontent saw widespread strikes demanding pay rises
• A baker’s strike led to panic buying of bread
• The average house cost £13,820, a pint of milk cost 11p and Dallas hit our TV screens
• The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4
• Anna Ford became the first female newsreader on ITN
• Otters became a protected species, ending the hunting of them
• A North Sea storm surge ruined four UK piers, including Herne Bay and Margate
• May Day became a Bank Holiday