CWU accuses employer of behaving like workhouse owner in Oliver Twist as 435 jobs are under threat

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The CWU is campaigning to save 435 jobs at the Virgin Media site run by Adecco at Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

Staff have not had a pay rise for more than six years and were told of the decision to close the Albert Dock site after they asked for a pay rise.

Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside who met with workers from the site, is backing the campaign to keep jobs in Liverpool and CWU is putting proposals to the company for alternative, less expensive workplaces which would safeguard skilled work for the 435 staff. Virgin Media is offering people the option of moving to Swansea or Manchester if they want to keep a job.

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “This is scandalous behaviour from a household brand which holds the futures of hundreds of Merseyside families in its grasp. Cold talk of ‘rationalising property’ – which is what the company is hiding behind – shows no respect for the employees who have worked for them, been outsourced to Adecco and gone over six years without a pay rise.

“Virgin Media has taken an approach similar to the workhouse owner in ‘Oliver’ by deciding to leave Liverpool after low paid staff asked for more. In the 21st century companies should have more responsibility to their staff and workers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more.

“If building costs are the main problem then we can find affordable alternatives which keep the jobs in Liverpool. Virgin Media knows that offers of jobs in Swansea and Manchester aren’t realistic so we want them to show commitment to their skilled staff in Liverpool and engage over alternatives which prevent hundreds of people being made redundant.”

CWU is concerned about the timing of the announcement, which came as staff finally decided they had waited long enough for a pay rise and undertook formal moves to get a pay rise.

The lowest paid workers at Albert Dock were on £12,200 – barely above the minimum wage. Virgin Media cynically raised this to £13,200 five minutes after announcing the site closure, so that few will benefit.

Dave Fitzgerald, a worker in the Albert Dock site for three years, said: “I was so shocked when they told us they were closing our workplace. We were all pretty upset and several people were distraught, several were crying. We don’t want to give up without a fight though – many have worked here for years and there’s no chance of moving to Swansea, I’ve got a family to think of. We really need Virgin to think again, there must be a way to keep these jobs in Liverpool.”

CWU has launched a petition and is actively lobbying local politicians as well as the company to seek a solution which keeps jobs in Liverpool. Sign the petition here.

Staff were given 90 days notice of the end to jobs in Liverpool and the site is earmarked to close by April 2012 at the latest.


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