A SEDGLEY shop steward is leading a legal fight for compensation for a dozen former employees of a West Midlands development firm.

Shop Steward Malcolm Hodgkins of Cross Place and his colleagues had been employed by Inex Home Improvements Ltd which had a contract to refurbish scores of Sandwell Council homes.

Work was sub-contracted out, however, and the Inex workers complained they were laid off and eventually dismissed.

Now, following a Birmingham Employment Tribunal preliminary hearing, Mr Hodgkins and his colleagues are making legal claims for unfair dismissal and redundancy pay.

Mr Hodgkins is a shop steward with the Union of Construction, Allied Trades & Technicians – known as UCATT - which has more than 80,000 members.

He was recorded at the tribunal as the lead claimant, attended the hearing with several other workers.

They were told by tribunal judge David Kearsley that work on the Sandwell homes had been sub-contracted out and that the refurbishments, aimed at creating near-new homes, had been scheduled for 28 months.

But Mr Kearsley who held a two-day hearing into claims that there had been a transfer of work, confirmed that the dozen workers were eventually told that there was no longer any work for them.

Several sub-contractors were said to have been involved and that one had refused to take over the work.

The work included renovations, plumbing, electrical work and painting and decorating and removal of asbestos.

Mr Kearsley conducted part of the hearing in private.

Mr Hodgkins said after the hearing :”We were not paid redundancy money and following Mr Kearsley’s comments we can now go ahead with legal claims for unfair dismissal and redundancy pay. The hearing is to take place later this year.”

Inex Home Improvements Ltd of Willenhall is said to be one of the leading building firms in the West Midlands.

The firm is expected to oppose the workers’ legal claims at the new hearing.