Social landlord's staff to strike after being forced to 'work for free'
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Social landlord's staff to strike after being forced to 'work for free'Image: Housing via Shutterstock
A Scottish social landlord's maintenance staff will take industrial action after being forced to work extra hours 'for free'.
Scottish Borders Housing Association failed to reach an agreement with union Unite during negotiations over plans to make staff go from 38 hours a week to 41 without extra pay or overtime entitlement.
The 6,000-home provider saw relations break down with staff after it demanded that workers are 'on site' by 8am - rather than the working day beginning when they left home in the morning.
A Unite consultative ballot held earlier this month found that 63% of SBHA's 95 maintenance staff want to take strike action.
Unite says that it has put forward a number of counter proposals to SBHA's director of technical services, Alan Vass, but attempts for a resolution have seen "management repeatedly renege on any progress".
Unite's regional industrial officer, Tony Trench, said: “There should be no doubt this increasingly bitter dispute is a mess of the SBHA’s making.
“Time and time again they are shifting the goal-posts on their workers in a blatant attempt to increase working time and change established working practices on the cheap.
“Our members are highly skilled tradesmen delivering a raft of vital services for SBHA and their tenants across the region - they are being shown no respect and they deserve better than to get stiffed out of a modest working wage.
“Unite remains ready and willing to reach a properly negotiated settlement with SBHA to address the organisational challenges at play but we will not have our members terms and conditions compromised by managerial incompetence.”
Speaking to the Border Telegraph, SBHA’s director of technical services, Alan Vass, said: “We believe it is reasonable that our staff start work on site at 8am as this is standard industry practice.
“Our maintenance division has undergone considerable change in recent years with a strong focus on better services for tenants.
"We have always offered appointments from 8am and these have been based on tenant feedback.
“The division has made great strides in these areas and we will continue to implement change where it is needed to ensure its future growth, while at the same time ensuring a stable financial future and providing job security for our staff.
“Our door remains open to all staff and their representatives to discuss areas of concern.
“We look forward to working with Unite to make sure there continues to be an uninterrupted service for our customers.”