Unite has appealed to the St Mungo’s board of trustees to ‘help rebuild trust’ by persuading senior management to reconsider its position and join last-ditch talks, ahead of the strike ballot result, which is due next Monday (February 3).
Unite is balloting over 500 members at the homelessness charity for a second time in less than six months in a dispute over the tearing up of the junior staffing cap agreement, which risks reinstatement of ‘race to the bottom’ terms and conditions, as well as overly harsh sickness and disciplinary policies.
Unite St Mungo’s reps have pressed their case to the board of trustees in an open letter, which is reprinted here in full:
Dear Mr Napier and board trustees,
It is a shame that we find ourselves balloting the charity’s staff for strike action for the second time in less than six months. It shouldn’t be this way.
Contrary to what the CEO Howard Sinclair has said, this decision has not been taken because our union, Unite, is hell-bent on striking – far from it. It has been taken because we have faced an intransigent employer, unwilling to address issues of very serious concern for our members.
We are disappointed that Mr Sinclair and his senior management team are more interested in whipping up division and destroying trust, than working with us to find a sensible solution.
This dispute has dragged on long enough. It is has been nearly a year and our members still worry that the changes to the junior staffing cap are the thin end of the wedge and will lead to restructuring.
They are unhappy at the draconian use of disciplinary procedures, which are disproportionate and unfairly applied, and of a sickness policy which is so punitive it is making people sicker with stress.
None of these issues have been addressed.
We are also disheartened by the CEO’s hostile handling of the dispute. This is between staff and senior management and is best resolved through face-to-face negotiation. It is not a publicity stunt, and the CEO should not be spending donor’s money on hiring an expensive London PR firm to trash the union, or to use his own words “stop more people joining and erode support”.
It is this kind of heavy-handed and frankly bullying management style that is destroying morale.
We provide support to some of the country’s most vulnerable people, and we are proud of what we do. But we’ve had enough of the threats to our jobs, union and professionalism.
Rebuilding trust will take time but it can be done if senior management is prepared to listen and work with our union.
Unite’s door remains open but we would urge Howard Sinclair to step aside, so that negotiations can restart in good faith.
We very much hope the board will use its influence to encourage senior management to return to the table, so that our members can get back to what they do best; helping homeless people rebuild their lives.
Unite staff reps at St Mungo’s*
*Anonymous to protect identity