‘A last resort’: Staff at borough’s largest housing association strike over pay offer

Staff at a housing association took to the streets today in protest at what they feel is an inadequate pay offer.

Lynn-based Freebridge Community Housing’s services are being affected as members of its team take strike action, with some picketing outside its Austin Street premises on Monday.

Freebridge is the largest housing provider in West Norfolk – but staff have been left frustrated by their futile efforts in attaining a 7% wage increase.

Staff at Freebridge Community Housing went on strike yesterday as they seek a 7% pay rise
Staff at Freebridge Community Housing went on strike yesterday as they seek a 7% pay rise

This led to the likes of maintenance workers, plumbers and builders walking out on their roles today in what they deemed to be a “last resort”.

A spokesperson for Freebridge said that staff were offered a 5% pay rise plus a £500 one-off payment – a deal agreed upon by all of its employees from its Colleague Forum and the Unison trade union.

However, all members of the Unite union rejected this.

Ady Ramage, an administration worker for the company who attended the strike today, told the Lynn News: “They closed down communication. We didn’t think that 7% was an unreasonable amount to ask for.

“None of us want this to happen. It is the last thing anybody wants.

“Hopefully this will be the only day we have to do it.”

However, Mr Ramage admitted that if no resolution is met, the strikes may also continue on certain days throughout the next few weeks.

This morning, workers also gathered at the company’s premises on Hamlin Way.

The spokesperson for Freebridge said: “All salaries at Freebridge are benchmarked, regardless of the role and in line with the median range of comparable roles within our industry.

“We value all our team and demonstrate that in paying a fair salary along with the very generous wider package that we offer, for example an up to 12% employer contribution to pension.”

Mr Ramage admitted that those taking industrial action feel guilty about not carrying out their jobs on days off.

They are also being mindful of how many days they strike on, as they do not want to lose out on too much money during a cost of living crisis.

He added: “We have tried to explain this to the leadership team for so long. There was just no other course of action.

“The guys all enjoy their jobs. They love the tenants – nobody really wants this.

“It is literally a last resort – it is a desperation thing more than anything else.”