Crunch talks between Unite and the homeless charity St. Mungo’s are set to take place tomorrow (July 12) at the conciliation service Acas in a long running dispute over job security and attacks to workers’ terms and conditions.
Unite is urging St. Mungo’s senior management to engage constructively in the talks to avoid a ballot for strike action of over 500 members at the charity. Unite members provide help and support for homeless people in Brighton, Bristol and London.
According to Unite, there is growing disquiet among St. Mungo’s workers over breaches to agreements which the union says are effectively forcing experienced staff ‘out of the door’ and harming services.
In addition to unilateral cuts to annual leave for workers working shifts of more than seven and half hours in duration, workers are also unhappy at the ‘draconian’ use of disciplinary procedures and St. Mungo’s decision to withhold pay for employees attending union meetings.
The looming possibility of industrial action follows a recent employment tribunal ruling that found St. Mungo’s had victimised a former staff member over an equal pay claim. A remedy hearing to discuss compensation is pencilled in for August 6.
It also follows reports that St. Mungo’s shared client information with immigration enforcement agencies without client consent. A move which Unite believes undermined its members’ professionalism, integrity and the trust clients place with outreach workers.
Commenting Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said, “St. Mungo’s senior managers have a real opportunity to constructively engage with Unite and address a raft of issues which are causing great disquiet and anxiety for a dedicated workforce.
“We would urge St. Mungo’s to seize that opportunity in talks at Acas by recognising that attacking the terms and conditions and side stepping agreements on job security is no way to treat a workforce committed to helping some of the most vulnerable in society,” she added.
“A failure by St. Mungo’s to listen to staff, makes an industrial action ballot very likely which could result in Unite members taking strike action.”