Unions pursue unfair dismissal over Connaught workers

Union bosses are exploring whether any of the 300 plus workers made redundant in Norwich because of the collapse of Connaught Partnerships could be able to bring cases for unfair dismissal.

The workers, who were employed by Exeter-based Connaught to work on Norwich City Council's �17.5m a year social housing contract, were given no notice and were made immediately redundant on Monday.

Brian Rye, of construction union UCATT, who led the workers on a protest outside City Hall on Tuesday, said the union had been offering help to the workers left without jobs.

He said: 'We have sent out three mail shots and have been very busy offering advice to the workers. The tribunal claims issue we are looking at it whether there can be any claims for unfair dismissal or for what is known as protective awards, because there was no consultation.'

'That's the focus for the next few weeks, along with trying to ensure the ex Connaught workers are taken on when the short-term contracts are let in the weeks ahead.'

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The union has also highlighted the costs to the taxpayer - because the workers made redundant must apply to the Government for redundancy payments, pay in lieu of notice, and outstanding holiday entitlement.

Delegates at TUC Congress have unanimously voted to support the Connaught workers and Mr Rye said he was pleased the issue was being discussed on the national stage.

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An emergency motion moved by construction union UCATT, instructed the TUC General Council to provide support for the Connaught workers, engage with the Government to secure long term employment for Connaught workers and oppose future outsourcing in public services.

Moving the motion Alan Ritchie, UCATT general secretary, described how the workers had faced additional uncertainty due to the failure of administrators KPMG to speak to unions or any of the affected councils.

There are 4,400 employees affected by the collapse of Connaught. Around 3,000 jobs have been saved by contracts being transferred to Morgan Sindall and Mears, but an estimated 1,400 workers have been made redundant, including more than 300 in Norwich.

Meanwhile, Norwich City Council bosses have urged families who have been left in the lurch by the collapse of contractor Connaught to get in touch - so they can arrange to get unfinished work completed.

The council has been trying to establish how many jobs, such as replacing kitchens and bathrooms, have been left undone and has sent letters to families urging them to get in touch with the council.

The council has employed extra temporary staff – former Connaught employees – in its customer contact centre to help respond to the calls from tenants and residents about outstanding work and other issues relating to the arising from Connaught going into administration.

Emergency repairs should be reported by calling 0344 980 3333.

General repairs which are the responsibility of the city council should be reported by emailing info@norwich.gov.uk or calling the number above during office hours (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm).

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