Branch Secretary :

Hestia paying less than London Living Wage

Staff at Hestia tired and frustrated as many continue to be paid less than the London Living Wage



During the pandemic more and more people are joining Unite housing workers to defend their safety and basic pay and conditions. Workers at Hestia Housing and Support are calling on their employer to pay them the London Living Wage – a Hestia Unite member reports.



Bonuses taken away



My colleagues and I at Hestia have worked immensely hard throughout this pandemic to ensure that our clients continue to receive the care and support they need. In return, our employer has failed to pay us the London Living Wage, taken away our bonuses, and refused to take our concerns seriously. 




As staff working in services commissioned by London Boroughs committed to paying the London Living Wage, we are entitled to the receive it under third party contracts. However, Hestia continues to deny this and dismiss our requests for back payments. 



Employer doesn’t understand its responsibilities



We are tired and frustrated. On top of having to deal with the pandemic, we are having to battle with an employer that doesn’t seem to understand its responsibilities and refuses to listen to and value its frontline workers. 



A fellow Unite member in my service has become her young family's main breadwinner due to coronavirus. She tells me of the stress of living paycheck to paycheck and the frustration and anger she feels at having her experience dismissed by an employer who presents itself publicly as caring and kind. 



Morale of team



A member at another service had previously relied on pool work to top up her wages. Since coronavirus, she hasn’t felt comfortable doing this and now finds herself relying on her son financially. As someone who has always been fiercely independent, she says this has impacted her sense of security.



“Low pay has always affected morale in the team” a staff member from a service in West London told me, “we have felt undervalued particularly as our workload is persistently high. The work we do is extremely difficult. I’m constantly thinking I should be leaving to look for better pay. It’s stressful trying to manage on what we are on.”



“we don’t count”



Workers feel like they’re at the “bottom of the pyramid,” like “we don’t count,” and that we’re being “punished” when we should be “celebrated.”



Hestia says that all frontline staff pay will be raised to above the London Living Wage by April 2021. But we feel it has taken too long already. An increase in wages in April will also not change the fact that the charity’s lowest-paid workers have been underpaid by hundreds of pounds each this past financial year alone. 



Patronising emails



Staff don’t want any more patronising emails from trustees thanking us for our dedication or vouchers in lieu of bonuses: we want pay rises and back payments now.



While Hestia’s behaviour is frustrating and disappointing, I’m glad that this campaign has brought us together and that Unite members at Hestia feel supported to speak up. There is a real sense of community amongst our growing membership. As one new member said, through Unite she has found a “great support network who are keen on listening to me and appreciate my input.” 


Conducting investigation



It’s also promising that Tower Hamlets, one of Hestia’s commissioners, has told us that they are taking this issue seriously and are conducting their own investigation. We urge Hammersmith & Fulham, Kingston, Ealing, and Kensington & Chelsea to take similar action.


As previously reported workers have submited a collective greivance.


February 3rd 2021



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