Mega meger housing association threatens union derecognition
Clarion formed as biggest housing association - starts by threatening union derecognition
Affinity Sutton and Circle housing associations completed their merger on November the 30th with staff facing the threat of union derecognition.
A last minute appeal by the unions to the Circle Chief Executive Mark Rogers was ignored and Clarion has announced that the union busting will go ahead.
Industrial action including strike action
UNISON, Unite and GMB have declared an official dispute with Clarion and will start an indicative ballot for industrial action including strike action if the organisation continues to attack the unions and the protections given to staff.
Adam Lambert, Unite’s Regional Officer said “This is a betrayal. A stab in the back for unions and staff. For months we have been having meetings with Clarion and we have asked repeatedly about their plans for future consultation. We kept being told that they were too busy with the merger to think about this. This is obviously a blatant untruth and they must have been planning to attack the unions and their staff for months.”
Both organisations benefit from huge historic public investment and plan to ‘partner’ with local authorities benefiting from their support including a new ‘strategic partnership’ with the Greater London Authority. Despite this the new organisation has started its existence with an attempt to deny the basic democratic right of its staff to proper union recognition.
Circle has been through a painful period of restructuring, cutting services and making staff redundant, as we have previously reported. Following problems with contracted out repairs services the organisation has faced criticism from local authorities and was the subject of questions in Parliament. The minister pointed to the merger with Affinity Sutton as offering the prospect of improvement as well as the role of the social housing regulator. However Affinity Sutton has itself been subject to criticism; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea recently rejected a high profile regeneration citing lack of social housing in the proposals for example.
Clarion will have 125,000 units across 176 local authority areas under management with plans to build 50,000 new homes across all tenure types over the next 10 years, of which two-thirds will be affordable. The company has a combined turnover of £827m, a surplus before tax of £233m and existing assets worth £20bn. Keith Exford, who was chief executive of Affinity Sutton, becomes group chief executive of Clarion, with Circle chief Mark Rogers acting as deputy chief executive.
Clarion announced the decision to end the longstanding recognition agreement between Circle and its trade union partners UNISON, Unite and GMB, on completion of the merger last week (Affinity Sutton does not currently have such an agreement). Unite had membership in both organisations and is totally committed to supporting all staff across Clarion.