Branch Secretary :

Optivo - Southern merger: Unite calls for jobs assurances

‘No job cuts’ guarantee sought by Unite as new mega-housing association is formed


Bosses at the new mega-housing association, incorporating Optivo and Southern Housing, must not use the merger as an excuse to cut the jobs, pay, and terms and conditions of workers, Unite the union warned today. 


Unite members in both Southern and Optivo have expressed anxiety about the future of their employment. The employer can go some way to alleviating this by commiting to avoid compulsory redundancies.




We await a response from the employer but the HR director has written to staff noting that Unite members have written to staff and commenting, "I understand that this has caused distress to several colleagues who have been approached by these union members and who have been made to feel very uncomfortable about the situation."  The clear message from staff is that is the employers lack of assurances that is causing any distress.


The new merged organisation, to be called Southern Housing comes into being by the end of the year and a key demand being made by Unite is that there are no compulsory redundancies. The union said the two housing associations had very healthy balance sheets.


Protecting livelihoods


Unite regional officer Steve O’Donnell said: “The only winners in this merger must not be the executives who will see their pay and bonuses increase at the expense of workers and residents.


“Unite won’t allow this to happen to our members at this new organisation – and they will have the union’s full support in protecting their livelihoods at a time when the cost of living crisis is putting extreme pressure on pay packets.” 


“At a recent meeting our members expressed concern that workers will be forced to pay for the merger with loss of jobs and cuts to terms and conditions, and the new organisation will become more distant to the residents it is supposed to serve.”  


Levelling up


Unite said it had a list of demands which it viewed as essential if Southern Housing were going to be a progressive, modern employer which included:


  •        Unite has a seat at the table in consultations, so members views and heard and listened to
  •        No compulsory redundancies as a result of the merger
  •        Enhanced terms for any voluntary redundancy exercises
  •        No cuts to current terms and conditions
  •        Levelling up of pay and other terms
  •        Pay settlement that reflects the cost of living crisis faced by members. Southern Housing Members rejected the 3.1 per cent  offer, which is in real-terms a five per cent  pay cut, as woefully inadequate
  •        Optivo members are demanding a 10 per cent increase


Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.


8 April 2022




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