No union-busting at Clarion

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Trade unions UNISON, Unite and the GMB stepped up their campaign against union derecognition last night with a lobby of the launch party for the new Clarion and Latimer Housing Group, formed from the merger of Circle Housing with Affinity Sutton.

The new housing association, one of the largest in Europe, is threatening to withdraw union recognition from the three unions. Members of all three unions took part in the lobby on 6th December 2016, handing out leaflets to guests of the launch event which asked Clarion management to engage with the trade unions in a positive way.

John Gray, UNISON convenor at Circle and UNISON NEC member for Housing Associations and Community organisations, said: “Withdrawing union recognition means that we lose our ability to negotiate over pay, terms and conditions, and the restructures which will inevitably follow a merger. Trade unions have had a long and productive relationship with management at Circle and we have been given no reason why this should now come to an end.”

He confirmed that the next step of the campaign will be a consultative ballot for industrial action, potentially opening the way to co-ordinated strike action in the New Year.

Adam Lambert, Regional Officer for Unite the Union, called on the Chief Executive of the new group, Keith Exford, to meet with the unions immediately in order to avoid strike action, saying: “The news that management are not prepared to work positively with the unions will undermine staff confidence in management at a time of great uncertainty. Strike action is a last resort, but this aggressive move from management may leave us no other option.”

Robert Melciou, GMB representative at Clarion, added: “It defies belief that management are using the merger as a pretext to withdraw recognition. It’s at times of change like this that members most need a strong voice at work to defend jobs and protect terms and conditions.”

Barney Wakefield, secretary of the joint unions at Clarion, said all three unions would be using political influence with local authorities to build support for the campaign against derecognition. He said: “Labour councils in particular should not be working with union busters when there are so many Housing Associations who value trade unions and respect workers’ rights. We will be calling on councils to withdraw co-operation from Clarion on new projects until union recognition is secured.”

For more information please contact:
John Gray, Circle UNISON Convenor on tel: 07432 150 530
Barney Wakefield, secretary of the joint unions on tel: 0781 712 0556

Notes for editors

  • UNISON represents 1.3 million workers employed in the public sector, by private contractors and in the not-for-profit sector, including over 20,000 members in housing associations. The UNISON Housing Associations Branch represents over 3,000 workers in social and supported housing across Greater London.
  • Unite has over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy, including over 4,500 members within London’s housing and social care sector.
  • The GMB is a general trade union representing over 600,000 members working in every sector of the UK labour force.
  • Clarion Housing Group was formed in December 2016 from the merger of Circle and Affinity Sutton. The new housing association will be one of the largest in Europe, with 130,000 homes across 176 local authority areas and 4,000 staff. They have a combined turnover of £826 million, a pre-tax surplus of £233 million and an estimated £20 billion in assets.