Branch Secretary :

Next Steps for Unite @ Centrepoint

Unite @ Centrepoint is consulting members on the next stages in its pay campaign.


Unite have been negotiating with Centrepoint management over a period of time regarding the annual cost of living award. Despite all efforts negotiators were unable to reach an agreement and seemed to have reached an impasse. However, Unite accepted an offer of a further meeting, which took place Thursday 27th June, in a final attempt to reach an agreement. The invitation was accepted in the reasonable expectation that Centrepoint were prepared to make a revised offer and reps were therefore very disappointed to note that the occasion was simply used as an opportunity to repeat what was previously on the table.


Members are now asking members to indicate whether they accept or reject management's current offer, and can respond to to express a preference.


Throughout the negotiations Unite has been aware of Centrepoint's reluctance to increase your offer of 2.5% and have attempted to engage in constructive dialogue to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Funds might be drawn from Centrepoint's reserves to support an increased offer, or other options could be explored which might make a package more acceptable as well as identifying potential savings. These suggestions include removeing the leave cap for long standing service, consider the option of awarding extra leave, increase pension contributions.


Regretfully Centrepoint have decided not to take up any of these suggestions and nor have they explained why in particular they have decided not to take up the option of replenishing the reserves at a slower rate enabling you to afford an increased offer.


In the course of the negotiations negotiators were told that Centrepoint were unable to offer an increase which is "unsustainable". Unite firmly reject the idea that an improvement on 2.5% is "unsustainable" and substantiated this based on Centrepoint's own accounts. Furthermore, reps pointed out that low wages are unsustainable.


Centrepoint claimed in their statement:


"We did re-evaluate if this would be possible, but as previously stated to you, the reserves account for just one month of our running costs.  We simply cannot put ourselves and our young people at risk by reducing the reserves below this (already low) level." (Sally Orlopp)


This comment gives the impression that increasing staff wages would put young people at risk and Unite is being irresponsible for suggesting this. Unite strongly opposes the accuracy of this statement - no evidence has been provided to support it. Centrepoint's unrestricted reserves stood at £17.6m, which is an increase of £796,000 on the previous year. This amounts to a 17% increase. The organisation has total reserves of £19.9m. Centrepoint could continue to increase the reserves but at a slower rate. This would not be at all uncommon and would not put the financial viability of Centrepoint at risk.


The fact is that this will be the second year running when staff have been paid a below rate of inflation pay rise and yet both of these years have been very good financial years for Centrepoint. Employers often attempt to enforce pay restraint during challenging financial periods but if Centrepoint is unable to offer a decent pay increase during good financial years staff may be entitled to draw the conclusion that they will never get a decent pay rise. For this reason, Unite is unable to recommend this offer in its present form.


Unite reps are now asking members to respond to the question:


  • Do you agree to accept the management offer of 2.5%?   Yes / No


Your feedback will help Unite determine the negotiating strategy of representatives. If the decision is to reject the management offer, the union will have further membership discussion on what the next stages of our strategy should be.


In the meantime, reps and officers are expecting to meet with members on the 22nd July and will report back after the meeting. The next meeting date with management has yet to be confirmed.


The member meeting is as follows:


Date: Monday 22nd July at 6.30pm

Venue: Unite HQ, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8TN


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