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Workers vote for strike action at Aspire Housing

Members of construction union UCATT employed at Aspire, a housing association in Newcastle under Lyme, have voted for industrial action, as a result of the company planning to cut their terms and conditions.

The UCATT members returned an 82.9% yes vote in favour of industrial action.

Industrial action is set to begin on the 20 July with further strikes taking place on the 24, 27 and 31 of this month.

Aspire is planning to cut sick pay entitlement from 6 months to 3 months. Pay and holiday entitlement is being cut for new starters.

Staff will also be expected to work for an extra two hours a week on a flexible basis. Tool allowance and insurance guarantees are being removed and workers could face financial sanctions if they are involved in an accident in a work vehicle.

The proposed changes affect the 102 manual workers employed by Aspire, of which 73 are UCATT members.

The unions Unite and GMB which also have members at the housing association have balloted their members for industrial action.

Aspire Housing says there have been lengthy and substantial negotiations stretching back five months and 65 of the 102 maintenance staff have agreed to the new contracts.

UCATT Midlands regional secretary Shaun Lee said: “Aspire were warned that members would not accept a huge attack on their conditions, the industrial action is entirely of their own making.”

Mr Lee added: “Aspire need to understand that our members will not be intimidated by bully boy management tactics and they need to sit down round the table and resolve these problems sensibly.”

Aspire Housing managing director Wayne Hughes said the contract changes are intended to make Aspire Response “a first class maintenance service to be proud of”.

He said: “Recent surveys show customer satisfaction with our repairs and maintenance service is low compared to other housing associations.

“Rightly so, maintenance is the service by which most customers judge Aspire Housing.

“Our operating hours will be extended from October 1, 2015, offering customers a wider choice of appointments for a tradesman to visit their home.

“The majority of our 102 trades colleagues (66%) will receive a pay rise, but some will see a reduction to bring them in line with market rates for their job.

“Compensation has been offered to those individuals who will see a reduction in their salary.”

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