Resolving Dispute 'Too Much Work for HR' - HCA Staff Told!
Members of Unite, Unison and the PCS protested outside the April HCA Board meeting hours after receiving a letter from the Interim Chief Executive, Mark Hodgkinson, telling them that their pay grievance could not be addressed as it would involve too much work for HR.
Members were angry that yet again their demand for a fairer allocation of the pay settlement was being refused, this time on the grounds that it would cause extra work for HR staff. The protest had been planned as part of a pay campaign which involved all three recognised unions in a collective grievance, a 'Pay Day Protest', and non-engagment in the appraisal process, plus a ballot for industrial action by Unite.
Unite members prepare to protest outside the HCA Board Meeting in April
The dispute arose after the Agency ignored the union pay claim submitted in June 2015 and refused to negotiate for eight months, choosing instead to design its own pay settlement which it is now threatening to impose. The unions claim that the pay settlement breaches the provisions in some staff contracts and the union recognition agreements, as does the refusal to negotiate or to seek conciliation through ACAS.
The HCA Board members were greeted by protestors outside the staff entrance as they arrived for their meeting
Anger amongst staff has been fueled by the fact that instead of allocating the cost of living award as a flat rate, benefiting the lowest paid staff the most, the Agency's directors' group apparently decided to calculate it as 1% across all pay ranges, benefitting the highest paid staff the most.
Last week, the Agency escalated the conflict by threatening staff who postponed their appraisals meetings warning them they could be in breach of their contracts, a move which an HCA Unite member said was not only designed to provoke the dispute further, but which was "hypocritical given that the heart of the dispute is about multiple breaches of our contracts by the Agency"
Unite's ballot for industrial action ends on Tuesday 3rd May. If you are employed at the Agency and are not already a union member, contact Unite representative Suzanne Muna (email@example.com).
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It manages the government's investment in social housing, and also has some land-related functions, making land and premises available to businesses. It also regulates social housing providers in England.
The Inside Housing report on the ballot can be viewed here (pay wall).