Branch Secretary : info@housingworkers.org.uk
  

Clarion: campaign to stop non essential repairs risk

Resident support

 

Repairs workers at Clarion Housing Association are demanding that Clarion reverse their disastrous policy of continuing with non-urgent repairs during the lockdown. Over 200 Clarion workers signed a petition calling on their employer to change track following which Unite’s regional official met with senior management to drive home the point.

 

A leading resident and SHAC activist supported Clarion workers “As a non-essential worker for a small business which has had to close due to the Covid-19 restrictions and a Clarion tenant I support the rights of other workers and the initiative of Unite at Clarion in calling for a suspension of non-essential repairs until the infection rates drop to safe levels.” You can help be asking you MP or councillor to write to Clarion - there is a model letter / email here.

 

More deadly

 

In response to the current situation most housing associations have adopted an “essential repairs only” approach but Clarion still refuses to even suspend their non-essential repairs whilst they re-evaluate the risks to both workers and tenants. The recent announcement from the Prime Minister stating that the new strains of Covid could be 30% more deadly heralds a further and greater risk which alone should cause Clarion to recognise the heightened danger and would require them to review their risk assessments in consultation with staff.

 

 

Most of the UK’s largest housing associations adopted an “urgent repairs only” procedure when the lockdown was announced which makes Clarion’s stubborn resistance all the more regrettable as well as being potentially deadly.

 

Under pressure

 

According to Inside Housing, Clarion have ‘strongly denied’ that staff have been threatened with disciplinary action although Unite has evidence that staff have indeed been threatened.

 

Under pressure Clarion have however made the following statement which should give workers some confidence to reject work which they think is unsafe: “Clarion Response would not under any circumstances knowingly place any of our people into a position of ill-informed risk through its practices and it has robust safety protocols in place to prevent accidental exposure to Covid 19 when working in residents’ homes. These include a 3-stage communication process and a dynamic risk assessment, empowering the Clarion Response Operative with the final call on whether it is safe to proceed.”

 

Unite will support members

 

Unite is encouraging workers to rely on this when refusing to carry out non-essential repairs. Clarion have also said that workers should not be “coerced to work” yet we know that there are many examples where workers have been told by immediate managers that they will be disciplined for refusing to carry out non-essential work. That is why Unite has stated that it will support any of its members who are disciplined for refusing work. It has also produced a template letter for workers to send to the employer (available here - hyperlink.)

 

Unite will continue to exert pressure on Clarion over this matter. Tenants have also complained claiming that they are unable to leave messages with Clarion to confirm when they have tested positive for the virus. This has led to workers attending properties with tenants who are covid positive. Tenants are calling for Clarion to change their policy, workers are calling for Clarion to change their policy, the government has said that only essential work should be carried out and on Friday Sadiq Khan said on LBC radio that there is no reason for people to be carrying out non-essential work in people’s homes. Unite agrees.

 

Support campaign

 

That is why Unite is calling on Clarion to put safety at the top of its list, to listen to those voices and not push the burden of responsibility onto individual workers to decide whether each job is safe or not. The best way to ensure safety is to abandon their reckless approach and revert to essential work only. We are also calling on MPs, London Assembly Members and Local Councillors to support our campaign by writing to Clarion CEO Claire Miller here: clare.miller@clarionhg.com

 

January 26th 2021

 

Nick Auvache

 

Further Unite housing resources on health and safety are available here.

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