Compulsory job losses ‘inevitable’ at Gentoo in Sunderland, warns union

Gentoo's headquarters in Sunderland. Unions fear compulsory job losses are inevitable.

Gentoo's headquarters in Sunderland. Unions fear compulsory job losses are inevitable.

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Compulsory job losses will be inevitable as city housing giant Gentoo struggles to cut more than £70million from its budget, a leading union official has warned.

Unison regional organiser Helen Coomer was speaking as the firm announced it will need to save £18million a year between now and 2020.

As the Echo reported yesterday, staff were bussed into a meeting at Rainton Meadows Arena to hear chief executive Peter Walls outline the situation.

“The level of cut is huge for an organisation the size of Gentoo,” said Ms Coomer.

“We have massive concerns. We are incredibly worried about our almost 300 members working there.

“There are bound to be compulsory redundancies – I don’t think they are going to be able to make it any other way.

“There are going to be some very worried people.”

Gentoo is blaming Government funding cuts for the need to reduce spending.

“The Government’s recent summer Budget announced reductions in social housing rents and other welfare reforms,” said Mr Walls.

“We are currently analysing the implications of this on our business. Unfortunately, current estimates are showing that we will need to make savings in the region of £18million per year, over four years.

“It is with great regret that a significant proportion of these savings will need to come from our employee costs and this will inevitably result in staff redundancies.

“Being a responsible business is important to us and our staff are the heart of the group.

“We really value our workforce and their input and, as such, want to inform and involve them in this process as early as possible.

“We are currently working through what the extent of this looks like and over what timeframe.

“Our final plan needs to be agreed by our board during October as we are required by our regulator to submit a revised Group Business Plan to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) by October 20, 2015.

“This is a very difficult time, however, we will work with staff and our Union colleagues to mitigate the impact of this as much as possible.

“Delivering a quality service to our customers remains our priority and we will ensure Gentoo remains fit for the future and that our service continues to be centred on our customers and their needs.”