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Row brews over Brum transfer

NEWS - Union decries lack of assurances as 300 DLO workers prepare to move to new contractor for housing maintenance deal

CONSTRUCTION union Ucatt is locked in a row with Birmingham City Council over the future of 300 housing maintenance workers to be transfer red to a new cont ractor in Apr il.

Ucatt, which was on the verge of strike action last Friday over the council's plans for a £2.2 billion PFI road scheme, has now turned its fire on support services firm Mitie.

Mitie is taking over from incumbent Accord on the council's £90 million deal for housing maintenance across 30,000 homes in the south of Birmingham.

But Ucatt regional secretary Steve Murphy said: 'We've got 300 guys down there in the council's housing DLO and we have had no consultation whatsoever over what will be happening at the end of March.

'We have had no information on TUPE transfers, no assurances over pay and conditions and we don't even know yet whether Mitie will be able to pay into the pension fund. The situation is unbelievable.' Birmingham Accord was formed in 2001 to carry out all repairs, maintenance, surveying and asbestos removal. Mitie declined to comment, but Birmingham's cabinet member for housing, John Lines, said: 'I have assured Ucatt that as part of the contract appraisal process we confirmed with Mitie that TUPE arrangements do apply and they have acknowledged this. I will be meeting Ucatt in the near future to talk about the contract.' Ucatt and electrical union Amicus postponed industrial action scheduled for last Friday over the council's plan to outsource road maintenance under a £2.2 billion PFI deal.

The unions, whose members are part of the highways DLO to be transferred under the scheme, called a halt after the council agreed to consider their proposals for cost savings.

But two strike dates ? March 6 and 20 ? are still pencilled in for action if the council rejects the proposals.

A trio of rivals ? Amey, EDF/Atkins, and Vinci/Amec/Laing O'Rourke ? have bid for the deal but Ucatt, Amicus, TGWU and GMB have submitted an alternative to the PFI scheme.

Amicus regional official Lynn Shakespeare said: 'The council should stop dithering and act on the achievable, sensible cost saving programme.

This PFI is unnecessary and risky.'