The Westminster Hall debate yesterday (July 17) on the plan to close the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) head office in Bircham Newton, Norfolk shone ‘a powerful spotlight on a shameful proposal’.
Unite was commenting on the debate initiated by North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham into proposals that could see up to 136 staff lose their jobs.
“We hope the Westminster Hall debate throws a powerful spotlight on the shameful plan to close the Construction Industry Training Board’s HQ at Bircham Newton in Norfolk for no sound economic reason,” said Unite regional coordinating officer Mark Robinson.
“Up to 136 jobs of hardworking staff are on the line which will be a severe blow for the local Norfolk economy which can’t afford to lose such skilled jobs,” he added. “This is a betrayal that will fragment training and cause problems for the UK’s construction training programme at a challenging economic time with Brexit looming.
“The rationale seems to be based on unblinking dogma by an uncaring management and not on financial common sense,” Robinson went on to say. “This proposal should be stopped for mature reconsideration.”
Robinson noted that at Unite’s meeting with the board on July 3 it was made clear that there was no realistic intention of considering any staff proposal of keeping its head office functions at Bircham Newton or indeed anywhere in Norfolk as it fails to meet one of its key criteria of ‘being in a central location’.
It is understood that the CITB bosses are considering a yet-to-be identified site in Peterborough as the preferred option.
Unite is now preparing a document highlighting the view that the staff representatives do not consider this consultation as being ‘meaningful’ before the next meeting with the CITB in London on Monday (July 23).
Unite has also prepared a briefing note to all industrial federations and large employers (also being large levy payers) which is due to be sent out later this week.
Education minister Ann Milton has conceded that the CITB’s plans ‘will be a significant challenge’.
The CITB has already said that it will no longer directly provide its unique construction courses and will seek to outsource this work. If no private provider is found, the training could close, which would have serious implications for the long-term future of the UK’s construction industry.