Branch Secretary :

Unite takes legal action against Optivo on behalf of members

Mergers and restrucruings with scant regard to views of staff


Mergers and restructurings are pushed through across the housing association sector, often with scant regard to the views of staff.  Unite is pursuing a legal claim against Viridian Housing and Optivo on behalf of members who have not been properly consulted and informed.


Defend our members terms and conditions


Regional Officer Adam Lambert commented:  “Unite wishes to send the strongest possible message to employers that we will take action to defend our members’ terms and conditions when organisations merge.”




Optivo describes itself as "one of the largest housing providers in the UK",  with 44,000 homes housing 90,000 people in London, the South East and the Midlands.



Under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations 2006 employees have significant rights.  Viridian / Optivo deny that the transfer of employment from Viridian to Optivo constitutes a “TUPE transfer” and use this to justify a failure to inform and consult with the workforce appropriately with regard to, amongst other things, the implications of the transfer.  The claim on behalf of twenty five Unite members was filed at tribunal last week.



TUPE protections



TUPE contains protections against planned changes to terms and conditions of employment following restructuring related to a merger.  If the tribunal determines that TUPE indeed applies and any proposed changes are to our members’ detriment, Unite may be able to take further legal action to protect their employment.


An article in the trade journal Inside Housing recently warned employers:  “Housing associations recognising a trade union should be particularly careful when embarking on change programmes, especially those necessitating union involvement.” 


Ideally such warnings would not be needed as management would seek to work with employees and trade unions, but Unite is committed to defend its members whether or not a union recognition agreement is in place.


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