Branch Secretary :

St Mungos fight goes on

St Mungo’s bosses trying to reinstate ‘race to the bottom’ T&Cs


Bristol stall


St Mungos Unite reps have had a great response on stalls outside a series of staff conferences in London and Bristol. As well recruiting new members they have new volunteers to be reps.


St Mungo’s Unite members, who went on strike in 2014 in defence of pay and decent services for clients and won, are now angry that senior management are attempting to get rid of an agreement that has been place in for five years and has stopped the race to the bottom on pay that’s widespread in the housing sector.


London stall


Just as in the dispute in 2014, management are again attempting to slash terms and conditions such as reducing annual leave entitlements and carrying on with an unsustainable sickness policy that effectively punishes staff for being sick.


Low paid staff


Management claim that the current agreement capping the use of junior staff makes St Mungos uncompetitive.  But this is completely false - during the five years in which the agreement has been in place contract income has more than doubled.


The agreement currently prevents management from restructuring teams to include ever increasing numbers of low paid staff.


Management, too, have become heavy-handed in their approach to staff – there is an excessive use of discipline, with even St Mungo’s executive director Helen Giles admitting herself that the number of disciplinary cases is significantly higher than in the rest of the sector.


In a blatant violation of privacy, staff are now being required to report their personal outside activities, and are also forced to wear tracking devices without any reasonable justification.


Antagonistic stance


What’s more St Mungo’s management has taken an antagonistic stance towards the union – they’ve threatened to ban Unite from central inductions should they say anything negative about the charity. Management has stopped providing lists of staff to Unite, in breach of the union’s recognition agreement.


St Mungo’s Unite members are also incensed that the housing charity last year violated its own principles when senior management passed client information on to immigration enforcement agencies for the unlawful purpose of deporting EU rough sleepers.


Staff had repeatedly warned management that their policy was unethical, damaging to St Mungos reputation and potentially unlawful.  The branch has supported these warnings reflecting concern across the homelessness sector.


Industrial action ballot


Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed, who confirmed that the union has begun the dispute process procedure this week, said Unite will likely move to a ballot for industrial action soon.


“Today’s stall outside the staff conference was meant to engage with both members and non-members about the mounting issues they are facing at work with the charity,” she said.


“We’ve begun the dispute process because our housing workers have had enough of management making it as difficult as possible for them to carry out their vital jobs. So far management have refused to listen to any of our concerns.


“St Mungo’s Broadway workers’ successful strike action in 2014 shows what we can accomplish when we stick together to defend our pay, terms and conditions. We’ve won before, and we’ll win again.”


Friday 18th January 2019



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