Branch Secretary :

Catalyst: Pay, Union Recognition, Childcare & Equality

Detailed pay claim


Unite members in Catalyst housing have conducted a wide reaching consultation on their pay claim – that will be true of many workplaces in our branch.


Reps are preparing a detailed pay claim which includes an across the board pay increase, a larger pay increase for low paid staff and the call for a company wide equality audit, an improved childcare package and union ‘recognition.’


Industrial action


Most members supported a pay campaign up to and including strike action. Although Catalyst refuses to recognise unions, they have to accept union representation for members in personal cases and nothing stops union members balloting for industrial action. Recognition would establish channels of communication between the union and management, perhaps making industrial action less likely. We have numerous cases of successful industrial action in unrecognised workplaces.



Nearly everyone surveyed agreed that now would be a good time to also ask for union recognition, so we have included that in the pay claim. This would represent a fundamental shift in employee management relations and give Unite much more access to time and facilities within Catalyst to strengthen the union. It would most importantly give us the right to NEGOTIATE with the employer (as opposed to just "consultation").  


Union recognition


Before his departure the previous CEO amazed London assembly members by explaining that Catalyst refused to recognise unions in order to communicate better with their workers.  Members pointed out that they would not accept that position from private sector employers let alone a publicly funded housing provider. Unite hopes that the new CEO will seek to move the organisation toward a more open and transparent culture including a dialogue with staff as represented by their union.



The cost of childcare has gone up dramatically over recent years and unfortunately housing workers’ pay has not matched this so catalyst Unite members have included a call for an improved package in their claim.  Unite members have raised concerns over equalities at Catalyst over several years which have been repeatedly rebuffed by management. 


Equality audit


In our survey the most popular item after pay was to call for a company wide equality audit.  This reflects widespread disquiet among catalyst staff.  This would entail Catalyst employing a 3rd party to assess whether any indirect or institutional discrimination exists in terms of promotions, recruitment, disciplinaries, performance management, sickness absence, flexible working and pay. 


Unite hopes that management will take staff concerns around equalities seriously.  The experience of Unite reps in the sector is that while senior managers speak positively in public about equality initiatives many currently fashionable initiatives in the sector actually damage equalities  – and this is particularly true in workplaces with weak union representation.


26 February 2019


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