Union attacks Tory-led authority as builders face six months on the dole while houses remain unfinished

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Builders in Birmingham have been pulled off jobs by the city council, leaving homes half-finished, according to UCATT.

The contracts of 40 workers employed by Wates Living Services ran out on Saturday but the new contracts offered by the Tory-led authority do not come into force until April next year.

Cheryl Pidgeon, UCATT’s Midlands Regional Secretary, said: “The council is performing a disservice to its tenants by delaying vitally- needed improvements to their homes and standing idly by while a group of longstanding skilled workers are effectively thrown onto the scrap heap, through no fault of their own.”

The majority of the work involves installing new kitchens and bathrooms into council properties in order to bring them up to the Decent Homes standard.

The problem is that although the council re-tendered the contract it will not begin until April 1 2012. Wates Living Space bid for the new Decent Homes contract but was unsuccessful and the work is to be divided between four contractors Thomas Vales, Willmott Dixon, Lovells and Morgan Sindall.

Due to the six months’ gap between one contract beginning and the original ending the normal Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) will probably not apply. Rather than transfer to the new contractors the workers are now facing redundancy from Wates Living Space.

Wates Living Space has offered to keep the workers in employment and undertaking Decent Homes work until the new contracts begins. But the council has rejected this proposal, which will result in delays in the Decent Homes project and the affected workers facing redundancy.

Cheryl Pidgeon said: “Wates Living Space has offered a solution which allows home improvements to continue and keeps workers in employment until the new contracts start. The council needs to rapidly re-think its earlier objection and accept this offer in the best interests of all concerned.”


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