Portsmouth housing firm Vivid in dispute with trade union GMB over staff concerns

DISAGREEMENTS between a housing provider and a trade union over the treatment of workers have spilled over.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 7:13 pm
Vivid recently opened a new development in Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton. Picture: Nisha Haq

GMB, which represents more than 631,000 workers in the UK, claims Portsmouth housing firm Vivid is threatening staff with disciplinary action after concerns were raised about social distancing.

They say workers are being made to carry on with servicing and other jobs, despite exercising their right to withdraw themselves from what they consider to be dangerous working conditions.

Meanwhile Vivid insists that not only are staff members satisfied with their working conditions, there are safety measures and support in place.

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During the coronavirus pandemic, Vivid employees have continued to carry out repairs in people’s homes and the firm has provided temporary accommodation for rough sleepers and victims of domestic violence.

But GMB, which has been meeting bosses from the housing company, says staff concerns are ignored, with emails to management not being replied to.

Adrian Baker, GMB’s regional organiser, said: ‘It is wholly understandable that any individual will place their own health and safety and that of their family above any unnecessary or unsafe practice.

‘Vivid has chosen to flex their disciplinary powers over their employees when simple risk assessments and words of advice and support could be used.

‘Why is Vivid pushing ahead with unnecessary works and placing both them and residents at potential risk?’

In a recent survey of employee satisfaction, 85 per cent of employees said they were happy with their working conditions, the company claims.

Duncan Short, Vivid’s head of resources, says government guidelines on social distancing are being followed to the letter.

He said: ‘We had a meeting with GMB two weeks ago and agreed with them our approach to furloughing some staff and the health and safety of trade staff, including the use of personal protective equipment.

‘Following this meeting, the GMB has raised no concerns with us so it’s disappointing that we haven’t heard from them directly.

‘Our priority as always is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff; so while we would never ignore concerns that are raised to us we don’t feel the issues raised by GMB are accurate or reflective of what the majority of people think.’