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Riverside OHG merger Unite says no compulsory redundancies

Riverside - One Housing Group merger

 

No race to the bottom

 

Unite the union has called for no compulsory job losses as two of the UK’s largest housing associations – One Housing Group (OHG) and The Riverside Group – announced they were in ‘partnership’ talks.

 

Unite, which has more than 1,200 members across both organisations, warned the respective bosses not to engage in ‘a race to the bottom’ in terms of pay and employment conditions for staff during the two-year merger process.

 

Constructive

 

In a statement to staff, OHG CEO Richard Hill has already warned that ‘there are likely to be some role reductions’.

 

The Riverside Group is a Liverpool-based charitable housing association with 58,000 homes, while OHG is centred in London and the south east. The eventual merger would create one of the country’s largest association groups with nearly 75,000 homes.

 

Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Siobhan Endean said: “As the recognised union with more than 1,200 members across both organisations, we will engage constructively during the partnership talks. We want to see a strong ethos of positive industrial relations and valuing staff as key factors in these discussions.

 

Greatest asset

 

“However, we won’t tolerate any compulsory redundancies or an unattractive ‘race to the bottom in terms’ of pay and employment conditions for staff who are any organisation’s greatest asset. We would want all terms to be harmonised up to the best in the sector.

 

“Housing associations have a long-established societal mission to provide good accommodation for its residents, many of whom may be in vulnerable circumstances, and this should not be forgotten by the respective managements going forward.”

 

Poor management

 

Unite regional officer for OHG Steve O’Donnell said: We know OHG is in a financial mess as a result of poor management decisions over the past couple of years. In London, we have raised governance issues regarding the situation it finds itself in. The management also have a strained relationship with residents’ groups due to health and safety issues, and inadequate repairs at various sites where maintenance and repairs have been outsourced to third parties.”

 

Unite regional officer for Riverside John Shepphard said: “This is another example of ‘merger mania’ that is plaguing the sector with endless and expensive restructuring that causes great uncertainty for staff and with tenants feeling isolated as services become ‘faceless’ and more distant. The management should concentrate on getting the basics right.”

 

Unite members’ jobs include care workers, maintenance staff, concierges, project workers, housing officers, caretakers and support workers.

 

For our earlier report see here.

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