Earlier this week, UNISON signed a recognition agreement with Optivo – one of the largest housing associations in the UK with affordable homes in London, the South East and the Midlands.
I was pleased to sign the agreement in person alongside their chief executive Paul Hackett, and talk with him and his team about the challenges they face in the years ahead.
UNISON has a strong record of organising in the housing sector, and we’ve had a recognition agreement with Amicus Horizon Group (a predecessor to Optivo) since 2006.
Last year, Amicus Horizon merged with Viridian Housing Association to form Optivo – so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to sign a further agreement so that we can better represent even more members in housing, with full negotiating rights on the full range of pay and conditions issues for members.
Housing – particularly social housing – is one of the biggest issues our country faces in the year ahead, and that’s especially true in London. Last year, a UNISON report showed that rising housing costs are forcing public sector workers out of London.
Almost two thirds (62%) of workers want to leave the capital because of the cost of housing. This figure rises to 87% for health workers living in the private rented sector.
That means housing that is genuinely affordable like that provided by Optivo matters both because our members help deliver it – and because many UNISON members rely upon it.
I am proud that we have secured this agreement – and I hope that in the years ahead we can continue to deliver for Optivo members, as they seek to deliver decent affordable housing for those who need it most.