The collapse of the building maintenance firm Connaught spells an anxious time for its workers while Lovells, who have taken on much of the work, decide whether to continue to employ them on their contracts with various councils around the country. Some have lost their jobs.
Last week there was a large rally to support laid-off Connaught workers and oppose the council leadership who were trying to wash their hands of them.
One worker from Hull was left a message to ring a number when she returned from work. When she rang it she found herself in a conference call with 300 other Connaught workers from around the country. The workers were told by a man from the administrators KPMG that their employment was terminated with immediate effect!
Since administration the council has done nothing to help the workers, indeed it has terminated its contract with Connaught. They could be looking for a cheaper deal from a rival contractor that doesn’t recognise unions.
More than 100 workers and supporters marched from Victoria Square to the Guildhall where the council was discussing the workers’ fate. The rally split into groups, each taking a door of the Guildhall in order to angrily corner councillors. Some self-selected union officials were invited to speak to council leader Carl Minns.
The campaign involves Unison, GMB and UCATT; they are demanding that the council transfers all Connaught workers to its alternative contractors. In fact, the best option for the union is to demand that housing maintenance and repair work is taken back in-house and that all workers are reinstated and issued with full council contracts.
The fight continues, and the energy created by the demonstration and the workers’ will to fight has boosted the local anti-cuts campaign.