Union members protest at Clarion launch
Union members committed to fighting for workers rights
A lobby of the launch party for Clarion met a friendly response as visitors arrived at the Royal Society of Arts. members of Unite and the other unions at Clarion gave out leaflets explaining the move to derecognise unions in the new organisation.
The new association, formed from a merger of Affinity Sutton, which derecognised its unions some years ago and Circle Housing has started its existence by attacking the rights of its workforce as we have reported. Unite reps in both organisations have met and agreed a campaign to defend workers rights and union recognition.
Visitors to the launch event included senior politicians and many visitors expressed shock at the approach Clarion is taking to its workforce. A joint union press statement is copied below.
Press Statement For immediate release – Wednesday 7th December 2016
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.”