Colchester grounds maintenance staff face jobs cuts

A group of ID Verde workers and UNISON officials poses outside Colchester City Council

Colchester’s award-winning grounds maintenance staff have been told their jobs are up for the chop as contractor idverde looks to make cuts, UNISON reveals today.

The firm told staff this week that it has to cut six posts after Colchester City Council slashed its budget for grass cutting, flower bed and grass verge maintenance.

UNISON says that workers are already struggling because of staff shortages, warning that the service cuts will blight Colchester’s green spaces and reduce the appeal of the city’s tourist attractions.

News that idverde workers’ jobs are on the line comes just two weeks after they lobbied the council for the same pay as their directly employed colleagues. Since last year’s pay deal the outsourced staff are paid around £2,000 a year less than council employees.

Workers were in the council chamber as Lib Dem cabinet member Cllr Mark Cory told them: “You do the things that make our city shine.”

Councillors pledged to go away and speak to idverde about increasing wages but instead seem to have cut funding, says the union.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “This news has absolutely floored Colchester’s ground maintenance workers. Within a fortnight they’ve gone from looking forward to a pay rise with councillors’ backing to the fearing for their livelihoods.

“We will be doing everything we can to stop the council and idverde pushing on with these cuts.”

An employee who did not wish to be named added: “We are already not meeting the service demands required. With fewer staff I am sure the public of Colchester City will soon see the effects of longer grass, less well-kept verges and beds across the City.”