Branch Secretary :

Housing workers’ pay meeting a big success

Inflation 30 year high



Despite record profits over many years, very little in the way of rewards finds it way into the pockets of most workers in the housing sector. A 30 year high in inflation which is set to rise further and a labour shortage which also affects our sector are two very good reasons why over 35 reps and activists came together to map out a united strategy to support a 10% pay claim across the sector.



We think the 10th of February 2022 will turn out to be a historic date as part of Unite's attempt to build a united fightback on pay across the housing sector. Encouraged by the resolve of new General Secretary Sharon Graham and inspired by the struggles of members in other sectors, housing workers set about the task of building a housing combine capable of standing up to the overpaid bullying bosses in our sector.



Colleagues using food banks



Many different organisations were represented, and feelings ran high. Reps described how they were only able to get by with help from family and that colleagues had to make regular trips to food banks.



Steve O’Donnell, Regional Officer set the tone by explaining how St. Mungo’s had launched their pay offer for 10% alongside other organizations such as One Housing. This claim mirrors the one submitted by the recently formed Local Authority combine. Construction workers have also submitted a 10% claim.



Official RPI index stands at 7.5%



The official RPI (Retail Price Index) inflation rate now stands at 7.5%. This is the index that best reflects the inflation rate experienced by workers although the corporate media and employers like to quote the CPI index. There are plans to discontinue the RPI index and Unite will create a special index so that we can track real inflation. Recent contributions from the cook and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe suggest that essential items in her local supermarket have risen by hundreds of percent over the last year! This reflects a more realistic assessment of how wages or ordinary workers in our sector are being eroded hence the need for a 10% pay claim.



Employers in our sector are more than capable of paying a 10% increase, many of whom have registered eye watering profits over a period of years but not shared that with the majority of workers. Not so for senior management and CEO's who have seen their pay increase substantially.



Margins rose to 24.4%



The housemark analysis of margins in the sector show that over the last year they rose to 24.4%, from a 2019/20 average of 23.6%. The private housebuilders are often accused of profiteering but their margins hover around 18.6%. There can be no doubt about the ability of housing associations to pay.



Members registered a determination to fight for 10% and to do so together. The race to the bottom where different housing organisations compete with one another to pay the worst has to come to an end. The pent-up anger over the Covid period together with the other factors has clearly emboldened workers. HGV drivers, bus drivers, airport workers have all successfully fought for pay deals around the 10% mark recently. This is proof of what can be achieved.



Tonight, Housing workers expressed a desire to join them. Arrangements were made to take the campaign into the various shops and to hold a joint protest in favour of 10% at a venue to be announced on the 14th March. If you were not able to come tonight, make sure you are free to join the protest on the 14th and contact your rep, regional official or Unite housing workers branch officers to request further details, posters and leaflets and to get involved.



Nick Auvach & Paul Kershaw


11 February 2022



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