Hundreds of workers in Liverpool unanimously voted to say they would take strike action against redundancies at a mass meeting on Thursday of last week.
The workers maintain and repair ex-council housing stock in the city. They are employed by the private company Enterprise Liverpool.
The council used to employ the workers. But it then outsourced the work and the homes. This means that Enterprise Liverpool now has to compete with other companies to win contracts for work.
Private housing association Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) owns the ex-council stock. LMH has rejected Enterprise Liverpool’s bid to extend its contract to maintain the homes, threatening over 300 workers at the company with redundancy.
Enterprise Liverpool is a “joint venture” between Enterprise plc and Liverpool council.
Enterprise plc makes up 80 percent of the company and the council has the other 20 percent. Two councillors sit on the board, although neither have spoken out about the redundancies.
The workers are members of the Unite, Unison, and GMB unions. Sid Graves is the joint trade union spokesperson at Enterprise Liverpool.
He told Socialist Worker, “We feel that we deserve some loyalty from the council. There’s a lot of disgust at how the council have kept people at arms length and washed their hands of us.
“Many of these people have been at the company for a long time – I’ve put in 25 years’ service. People who started working for the council thought they had a job for life. But Liverpool council has kicked us in the teeth.
“We were first outsourced in 2000. We’ve managed to defend our terms and conditions so far, but now they think they can do what they want with us.
“We have a 90-day consultation period and we can’t just wait for the death knell of redundancy.
“We called a mass meeting to explain what was going on and to talk about how we are going to fight the plans.
“At the end we had a vote on whether people would be prepared to take industrial action against the redundancies.
“People voted unanimously in favour of taking action.
“We’ll be lobbying a special council meeting taking place this Wednesday. If nothing changes, we’ll call another mass meeting to discuss what we should do next.”