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Yarmouth council workers go on strike

PUBLISHED: 07:03 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 July 2010

Workers responsible for maintaining Yarmouth council homes downed tools yesterday in a protest over lower wages.

The Norse Commercial Services (NCS) staff also staged a high-profile demonstration outside Yarmouth Town Hall in a bid to make their bosses change new contracts.

Workers responsible for maintaining Yarmouth council homes downed tools yesterday in a protest over lower wages.

The Norse Commercial Services (NCS) staff also staged a high-profile demonstration outside Yarmouth Town Hall in a bid to make their bosses change new contracts.

Workers say that because of a change in their working hours and the end of overtime they have lost at least £2,000 from their annual wage packets.

Yesterday's strike and town hall protest was also organised by the union Ucatt because it feels it was deceived by not being involved in the drawing up of the new NCS contract last October to maintain Yarmouth Borough Council homes.

The strikers say that as a result of their industrial action and new working hours there is a backlog of 300 homes that need work doing - and that number could rise as further strikes are planned later in the month.

Last night NCS, a private trading arm of Norfolk County Council, defended the new working condi-tions by saying it provided long-term security for its workforce. It has also compensated staff for any financial loss with a one-off £700 payment.

However Ucatt was adamant that it had been hoodwinked over the changing of the number of hours worked and cutting of overtime which had led to 40 of its members losing out.

Regional secretary Brian Rye said: “The deceit shown by NCS has infuriated our members. In cutting our terms and conditions our rights have been ignored and abused. I would say they acted in an underhand fashion.

“The effects of these changes may also mean longer waiting times for tenants to get their repairs done. It may also take longer to being empty properties back into usable service.”

NCS changed its name from Norfolk County Services in April and delivers services to councils across Norfolk and Suffolk.

The facility management and contract services company says that when it took on the borough council homes contract in 2006 it had told its workforce that a new one would have to be arranged to make sure it was commercially viable.

Tricia Fuller, human resources director at NCS, said: “We were delighted some months ago to have won the new eight-year contract because we were able to provide long-term security for our staff in what are challenging and uncertain economic times.

“We have been working hard over the past eight months to reach a suitable agreement with Ucatt and are very disappointed that this has not been possible.

“I firmly believe the package we have put together as a result of several months of negotiation is the most affordable and realistic in the current climate.”

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