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Union hits out at ‘betrayal’ of 200 Norfolk workers by CITB

PUBLISHED: 15:37 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:42 14 December 2018

The National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

The National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

The Norfolk-based Construction Industry Training Board has been accused of “betraying” its staff after it emerged that more than 200 staff faced relocating out of the county to keep their jobs.

The National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian BurtThe National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

The CITB announced last month it had outsourced some 337 roles, including 233 from its Bircham Newton head office, to Shared Service Connected Ltd (SSCL) as part of its plans to slim down the business and leave Norfolk.

It has now emerged that most staff who are being transferred over to the new company from February 1, 2019, have been offered posts in York, with other posts redeployed to Newcastle, Blackpool, Warrington and Newport in Wales.

The staff affected are in roles including human resources, finance, procurement, technology, apprenticeship processing and customer operations. SSCL said “options for employees will made available”, including redundancy.

Mark Robinson, regional coordinating officer for the union Unite, said: “The CITB’s staff have been betrayed by the organisation. The CITB’s board’s abject failure to require SSCL to open a Norfolk office demonstrates a complete disregard for its workers.

The National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian BurtThe National Construction College at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

“The vast majority of the workforce have families and it will be impossible for them to relocate.”

The union, which has put forward its own plans to keep jobs in West Norfolk, said the current process was “not a transfer of work but the CITB outsourcing a redundancy scheme”.

A spokesman for the CITB said that finding a partner which could maintain the quality of services had been the priority, ahead of keeping the jobs in the area.

The 300 jobs transferred to SSCL in February will continue to operate from CITB premises, but the roles will transition to new sites by October 2019. The other 37 staff will remain with the CITB, of which 31 are in Norfolk, five in Scotland and one is a mobile worker.

A petition was launched earlier in 2018 to save the CITB. Picture: Ian BurtA petition was launched earlier in 2018 to save the CITB. Picture: Ian Burt

MORE: CITB apologises for misinforming staff over head office move

CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “Throughout this process, SSCL have committed to providing a personalised programme of support for all affected CITB colleagues, including practical career advice and guidance, coaching and access to group learning events.

“I recognise the impact of this change on affected staff, and I want to emphasise that the decision to transfer these services is in no way a reflection of their skills and expertise.

“We have chosen SSCL through a robust procurement process and they are deeply committed to supporting colleagues to ease the transition into new ways of working.”

The changes have been made as part of the CITB’s Vision 2020 programme, in which it wants to cut the number of training and accreditation services it offers directly to the construction industry, in favour of an oversight role.

Sarah Beale, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board, based at Bircham Newton. Picture: Jeff Russell Photography.Sarah Beale, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board, based at Bircham Newton. Picture: Jeff Russell Photography.

MORE: Training body will cut 800 roles in three-year transformation plan

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