The largest social landlord in the Borders has confirmed it is seeking to cut its staff.
Bosses at Selkirk-based Scottish Borders Housing Association were due to open a consultation about their proposals with officers of the trade union Unite yesterday.
“Any decision to reduce the workforce is a difficult one to make,” said a spokesperson for the association, responsible for about 6,000 rented properties in the region.
“However, we have a duty to ensure our team is resourced appropriately to deliver outstanding service to our tenants in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible over the coming years.
“We believe this exercise will leave us with a property services team that is ideally equipped to meet the needs of tenants and our network.
“Scottish Borders Housing Association is committed to supporting colleagues throughout the consultation period.”
The association was responding after it emerged that 11 painters and decorators among its 90-strong property services team had been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy.
“We can confirm staff have been informed we are seeking to reduce the number of painters by three,” said the spokesperson.
“Beyond that, we do not wish to prejudge the outcome of any discussions associated with the change which is required by our planned maintenance programme.”
Allan Graham, a former association employee and Unite shop steward, told the Southern there were fears among the manual workforce that this was the “tip of the iceberg” and an acceleration of a trend towards more work being subcontracted and outsourced.
Tony Trench, regional industrial organiser for Unite, was due to attend yesterday’s meeting in Selkirk.
“There has so far been no official consultation with the union over what is proposed, but I understand the association is hoping to achieve its workforce reduction by voluntary means,” said Mr Trench.
“Among other things, we will be seeking to ascertain if any compulsory redundancies are being considered.”