Branch Secretary :

Homelessness workers’ pay down – their bosses pay up

Pay has become an emergency issue


Pay for front line workers has been driven down for years while senior executives pay rockets up. Nowhere is this more acute than in a homelessness charity like St Mungo’s. Inflation has now reached 6% RPI, so pay has become an emergency issue for staff. 


Steve Douglas, the St Mungo’s Chief Executive, gets £180,273 excluding pension contributions. This represents a 68% pay increase for the role of Chief Executive since 2013.


Real terms pay cut


Most staff at St Mungo’s are paid on scales linked to local government pay. Workers on local government scales have suffered a real terms pay cut of 21% after 11 years of pay freezes and below inflation pay increases, but it is worse than that for St Mungo’s staff. They have had their working hours lengthened and holidays cut during that time.



In recent years the executive has come up with various initiatives that result in higher paid jobs being replaced by lower paid. This was the issue behind strike action around a cap on the number of junior grades on a shift and there have been moves to replace support workers with ‘concierges’ on night shifts.


Startling increase


Meanwhile senior management have been creating more senior posts on high salaries at the expense of lower paid staff; the number of staff members paid over £60,000 per year has risen from seven to thirty-three according to the most recent published accounts; a startling increase. Meanwhile, a night concierge in Bristol is paid £18,562 and a Care and Support worker could expect £22,183 annually.


St Mungo’s workers complain about impossible workloads and stress at work while finding it increasingly hard to afford basic necessities. No one works on the front line in homelessness expecting to get rich but increasingly staff feel super exploited and hugely undervalued.


Undermine union influence


Unions in local government are calling for a pay increase of at least 10% and members have voted to reject the employers offer. Workers who have battled through the difficult conditions of the pandemic are being offered an insulting 1.75%. In recent years management at St Mungo’s have made things worse by squeezing the pay and conditions of their workforce even more than the national agreement while boosting their own pay.


Management in St Mungo’s is on record discussing how to undermine union influence in the organisation with expensive consultants. They have recently complained that publicity about their handling of bullying issues raised by a union rep is damaging to St Mungo’s. But surely managements' treatment of its staff is what is undermining St Mungo’s reputation?


Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham says, “Unite is now focussed on defending workers’ jobs pay and conditions, which includes making sure workers do not pay the price of the pandemic.”



By St Mungo’s Unite member



18th November 2021


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