Why workers at Shelter are balloting for industrial action
Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness and we campaign to prevent it in the first place.
Everyone working for Shelter cares passionately about these issues. We are totally committed to the work we do and that is why we have struggled over the decision to ballot our members for industrial action. However, we fervently believe that cutting pay for staff will result in committed and experienced members of staff leaving the organisation, and adversely affect our ability to recruit at the right level. The effect will be felt by the vulnerable people who we advise. Staff are therefore committed to getting management to withdraw their planned changes to the pay structure.
The salary for new staff working on the front-line with vulnerable clients has already been cut by up to £5000 p.a. Many managers themselves have told us that they cannot recruit and retain the best staff at this salary level.
In April this year, a new structure was proposed, which involved the following changes:
• Division into two pay scales – one for advice and support and one for other staff with grades still based on job evaluation – but pay now based on ‘market median’. Since the ‘market median’ is lower in advice and support, certain grades in those roles paid less than in other roles at the same grade – by up to £3,000.
• Introduction of new pay rates below the median for each grade (for all staff). Most new staff to be recruited at the minimum of each grade (below market median) and to then progress to the median. Given the new, lower, pay rates for advice and support staff, this results in a £5,000 reduction in pay for some new staff.
• Introduction of performance related pay so that, based on outcome of appraisals, pay can rise above the median (again for all staff).
Shelter have said that existing staff will not be affected for the next 18 months, however we believe that they will speedily be making moves to “equalise” pay sooner rather than later, to protect themselves from equal pay for work of equal value claims that will arise due to the creation of a two-tier workforce.
We know that part of this problem stems from austerity measures that mean that government contracts don’t enable staff to be paid the rates that they deserve. However, these proposals only cut the pay of the lowest paid workers and result in an even wider pay differential by protecting the huge salaries at the top.
Unite members have resoundingly rejected the final offer proposed and the ballot for industrial action has now started.
Unite Union Reps
Cross posted from Unite for Our Society http://www.uniteforoursociety.org/