Branch Secretary :

St Mungo’s brutal treatment of BAME worker opposed by Unite

Without income for twenty-one weeks

Pease sign our petition here


Female worker comes to the end of a period of sickness during the pandemic. Health conditions put her at raised risk. She is also older and from a BAME background. Her normal job would expose her to further increased risk. Rather than furlough her or find her alternative work the employer simply stops her pay without going through any personnel procedure.


Management reject appeals to senior levels from Unite leaving the worker without income and desperate for twenty-one weeks.


How would you describe this employer?


How would you describe this employer? What sort of organisation would you guess would do this? The answer sadly is that the employer is St Mungo’s, a homelessness charity operating as a homelessness agency. The organisation’s recruitment material points out that “our Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE regularly speaks about the importance of diversity and inclusivity” but unfortunately Unites experience is there is a long way to go in his own organisation.


Following a meeting with a director some days ago Unite has now been able to organise payment of annual leave owed and an agreement that she will now be furloughed. She has still not received payment for the period that her wages were stopped let alone compensation for the agony she has been through.


Extreme hardship


A grievance has been lodged with management and Unite has warned St Mungo’s that we believe their action has been unlawful. During the period when she was left without pay, our member was in left extreme hardship. Senior management made no effort to mitigate her hardship or to enquire whether twenty-one weeks without pay would leave her hungry or homeless.  


Unite believes that St Mungo’s owes this staff member appropriate compensation and an apology. There are also serious questions for St Mungo’s: how could a staff member be put through this? Why was no formal personnel procedure used? Were the legal implications considered? Given that older BAME workers are clearly at increased risk, were the equality implications considered?


Crass insensitivity to equality issues


Terrible though this story is, our experience is that it is not totally untypical of an organisation whose HR department treats workers brutally and with crass insensitivity to equalities issues. Front line service managers complain at the malevolent intervention of senior management and that intimidation from the top has become common.


The organisation has a new boss, Steve Douglas CBE with a reputation for producing reports and articles on equalities. Unfortunately, he has consistently backed existing senior managers who continue in the old way. He has rested on management led equality initiatives which lack credibility and refused to reinstate regular ‘JNC’ meetings with Unite which should serve as a channel of communication though which the workforce can express concerns.


Unity over division charter


Unite reps have pressed Steve Douglas, to sign up to a ‘Unity over Division’ charter as a way of working to change practice on equalities in the organisation. If he wants change, he should work with Unite and not hide behind his tarnished senior management team. We invite you to sign the petition produced by Unite calling on him to reconsider.


We have reported before that Steve has argued the charter was too political for St Mungo’s. This in an organisation that shared confidential client information with the Home Office in a deportation programme which was found to be unlawful. St Mungo’s simply conducted an internal review, rather than an independent investigation.


Repeated warnings from Unite


Despite the seriousness of the issue, no senior managers were held responsible and the report made no reference to the repeated warnings from its staff expressed through Unite.  It is not surprising that the report is seen as a whitewash!  If management are serious about re-establishing confidence, they cannot leave the deportation issue here.


The HR leadership are on record describing workers who challenge equalities in the courts as legal parasites’ and St Mungo’s recently lost a case at an employment tribunal for victimising a worker who challenged St Mungo’s on an equality issue. St Mungo’s senior management cannot be allowed to continue working on this basis.


The result of this leadership is that an incredibly dedicated team of workers dealing with front line issues of homelessness are not adequately supported and the service is damaged.  We have observed in the past that St Mungo’s board appears to be asleep at the wheel – the problems continue.


Sign our petition here


Paul Kershaw Chair Unite LE1111


November 2020


Illustration from microbizmag



Comments :

The caseworker cared for my son Jason, who passed, they were his friends and they had my utter respect for over and above help afforded him with compassion and tolerance. Recently very disturbing things have emerged about this organisation regarding spying for the Tory Government and now this ! They need to address their failures and urgently work with their workforce as they do with their customers !!!

By Robert Cossey-Mowle on 2020-11-30 12:16:51

Disgraceful treatment of this worker by an organization's that's lost it's way. St Mungos used to be a compassionate empathetic charity and the last 6 years of their HR vulgar cruelty is the shameful conduct of this treatment

By Bridget Thornton on 2020-12-02 08:58:17


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