Maintenance staff at Liverpool Mutual Homes staged a protest after what they said was a management “cull” of older workers.
The workers previously worked for outsourcing firm Kinetics, but after it went bust they were transferred “in-house” to work for a firm called Housing Maintenance Solutions, which was set up by the housing association.
But within weeks of the change, staff over the age of 50 were told their services were no longer required with “immediate effect” because they did not meet the criteria required to continue in jobs they have done for years.
And because one of them is their union representative, Sid Graves, the remaining workforce fear their terms and conditions will be further eroded with no-one experienced enough to fight their corner.
So far 13 staff out of around 200 who transferred have been told they are out of a job, including drivers, electricians and labourers.
The remaining workers have been warned there will be more job losses to follow.
HMS said it was “unfortunate” some staff could not be found new jobs but GMB trade union representative Mr Graves, who started work when the council still ran the housing department 26 years ago, said the behaviour of LMH and HMS was disgusting and that the cuts were targeted at those with long service.
The workers affected protested outside the HMS depot in Electric Avenue, Gillmoss, on Friday morning. They claimed LMH boss Steve Coffey has not been involved in negotiations for some time and seemed determined to undermine the trade union.
Mr Graves added: “They’re culling us, the long-serving staff, the majority of us having served up to 35 years. I’m one of the shortest serving of them at 26.
“They were saying they no longer recognised me as a trade union representative because it’s a conflict of interest because my job’s under threat.
“Well, it’s not under threat now, it’s gone.
“To be told we don’t fit the criteria when we’ve been working maintaining these homes for a quarter of a century is ridiculous.
“I believe it’s a direct attack on the trade unions and I think the tenants need to take notice.”
The staff were originally council workers, but when the housing stock of 15,000 homes was transferred to LMH in 2008, they were transferred to work for Enterprise, which took on the contract. The tender was then given to Kinetics, which became insolvent earlier this year.
HMS managing director Paul Worthington said: “Following the Kinetics Group becoming insolvent, their employees were made redundant and the government’s scheme has already made, or is in the process of making redundancy payments to those affected.
“In addition to this it was always our intention to provide employment for as many as possible of the 200 people affected.
“Whilst we have succeeded in this for the vast majority, after a thorough and independent review it has not been possible for a small number to continue with similar roles.
“Trade union reps have been involved in every stage and continue to be as we endeavour to work with those affected to identify alternative roles or help them through this difficult period.”
Article from Liverpool Echo