Branch Secretary :

Homeleness Workers Alliance

September saw the second meeting of the Homelessness Workers Alliance. A collective of reps and activists in different organisations from across the sector who are coming together to fight for better pay and conditions.

We are fed up with years of declining wages, that leave us trapped in insecure private rented accommodation, unable to afford childcare, with the security of our own home a distant dream. Despite working through the pandemic often at risk to our own health, this shows little sign of changing. Ask a manager why pay is low and hostels in such a state of disrepair, they will say that competitive tendering leaves them with no choice. If they spent more they would be undercut by another organisation who would be willing to undercut them.

The meeting heard reports from different organisations of a toxic mix of increasing workload and stagnating wages. The result dangerously low staffing levels and increasing numbers of staff leaving as they were fed up and burnt out.

To turn the tide and improve our conditions all agreed we needed to act together. This would strike against the race to the bottom, if we are all pushing for better pay and conditions employers can no longer use competition as an excuse. A key part of this has to be a joint campaign over pay. Those on the NJC scale have lost a quarter on their pay versus the cost of living over the last 10 years, whilst those in organisations who have broken away have lost even more.

Attendees also reported of entrenched racism in many homeless organisations, with BAEM workers looked over for promotion, targeted by managers for disciplinaries and ignored when reporting racist incidents and abuse. Management across many organisations have been obstructive and failed to act on numerous occasions and it is up to us as workers to stop this. A separate working group was set up to focus on this issue and think about how to raise this is each organisation.

It was also felt the a successful campaign depended on reps in each workplace having the skills, knowledge and confidence to organise. Attendees agreed to organise an in-person training session in partnership with Unite’s organising department around organising for pay campaigns. It was also agreed to establish a web page with resources for shops to access to help build their campaigns.


Homelessness Workers Alliance:

We stand for -

  • An end to a decade of stagnating pay and conditions in the homelessness sector
  • An end to workplace racism in the homelessness sector
  • For a sector standards agreement to bring an end to competitive tendering
  • A minimum pay rise for all staff below Snr management level to £15 ph or a 10% pay rise whichever is greater
  • All homelessness workplaces to agree to sign an equalities charter committing them to publicising information on pay, promotions and disciplinaries and to work with trade unions to end racism and inequality in the workplace.


See here for resources to use in your workplace