Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/555/6578
Liverpool City Council: Housing maintenance workers fight for jobs
Since being privatised in 2000, Liverpool's housing maintenance workforce has been transferred to three different employers and has been reduced from 800 to just 300. But after the last of Liverpool's council house stock was transferred to a so-called social landlord earlier this year, there's a danger that the remaining 300 workers are about to lose their jobs.
Dave Walsh, TGWU/Unite branch secretary and Liverpool city council worker, personal capacity
The new landlord, Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) has barred the present contractor, Enterprise-Liverpool from bidding for the new contract. In theory this shouldn't affect the workforce because, under the TUPE regulations, they should transfer to whoever wins the new contract. However, LMH are looking at ways of restructuring the new contract so that it circumvents TUPE, allowing them to make their own arrangements for a maintenance service.
This would mean that LMH could have small contractors undercutting each other for short-term contracts. But it would also mean that 300 workers would be thrown on the scrap heap.
Almost all of the workers affected demonstrated outside the town hall recently. Councillors gave cross-party support for the workers' cause during the lobby and said that they would make it known to LMH that they expected the workforce to be treated fairly.
But the truth is councillors are in no position to criticise anybody when it comes to treating people fairly. At the same meeting, homecare workers were lobbying councillors about their own similar treatment at the hands of the council.
Their work is also being outsourced. But, because there would have been no interest from private providers if they were forced to employ the existing workforce via TUPE, the council have packaged the deal so that it circumvents the regulations in the same way that LMH plan to do with the housing contract.
This has left over 100 workers facing the prospect of redundancy. This exposes the councillors' concern for the maintenance workers as a fraud, when they treat their own workers in the same way.
Thousands of workers have been outsourced by Liverpool city council in the past ten years. Many were already low paid, but they at least had permanent, secure employment with decent conditions and access to a pension scheme.
The profiteers who now run these public services are robbing these workers of their dignity and if allowed to continue will return us to the conditions our class lived in before the second world war.
The solution to replace the system which perpetrates this robbery is socialism. The Campaign for a New Workers' Party is gathering momentum in Liverpool because working people are realising that things can't continue as they are.
In The Socialist 5 November 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news