The Unite union is preparing to ballot members for industrial action after Fortem, which undertakes maintenance and repair work on Rotherham council housing, announced it had derecognised the union.
The union said that Fortem made its move while preparing to make around 20 staff redundant.
Fortem (and previously Willmott Dixon) has been delivering responsive repairs and voids service to 11,500 properties across Rotherham since November 2010.
Unite said that Fortem had previously recognised and accredited Unite shops stewards and activists but was now refusing to consult over the redundancies.
The redundancies are principally in administration and managerial roles and some of the work is to be transferred from Rotherham to head office in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Unite will now hold a meeting of its members at Fortem and begin the process of balloting for industrial action. It is also considering if legal action can be taken against the company.
Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said: “This is an outrageous attack on union rights by Fortem. Unite will be using all avenues open to it, whether that is industrial or legal, to get this decision overturned.”
He added: “Fortem is supplying services on behalf of Rotherham council and it is completely unacceptable that council taxpayer’s money is being used to derecognise the union rather than repair tenants’ homes. Unite will be lobbying Rotherham council to apply pressure on Fortem to reverse this decision.
“If industrial action does go ahead then tenants will be denied vital repairs and maintenance projects will be delayed, purely as a result of Fortem’s misguided and ill-judged attack on Unite.”
A spokesman for Fortem said: “Fortem fully recognises its legal obligations and will always work to ensure good relationships with trades unions. We are unable to comment specifically on an ongoing process.
“Fortem is making the Rotherham office its main hub for activities in the north, which alongside the launch of an academy in Dinnington, will lead to the creation of 34 jobs in 2018.
“As part of a plan to increase efficiency of service for tens of thousands of people living in homes served by Fortem, including in Rotherham, the company is proposing to move a small number of back-office functions in all branches to a new smart hub in Hertfordshire. This new hub will be responsible for scheduling responsive repairs, gas appliance servicing and electrical testing for all residents served by Fortem.
“This will mean that 13 full-time equivalent roles in our Rotherham branch are at risk and a full consultation process is underway to find alternatives to confirming roles as redundant, including identifying redeployment opportunities. Fortem has welcomed Unite’s participation in the consultation process to date.”