Unite members at homeless charity St Mungo’s are having to consider taking strike action. In the first of a series, we meet the members having to make this tough choice as they tell us their stories – anonymously – to protect their identities.
On Monday (August 5) Unite’s strike ballot at St Mungo’s opened.
It comes after talks between Unite and the homeless charity collapsed without any movement being made on issues that threaten the jobs, terms and conditions and services our members deliver to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Our members are starting to speak out and share their stories of why they’re prepared to strike to defend their jobs, their union and professionalism.
It is disappointing that St Mungo’s senior management has let it get to this stage. But tearing up our union-negotiated junior staffing cap agreement, and reinstating race to the bottom terms and conditions is just plain wrong.
I didn’t become a project worker for a homeless charity for the glory or the money. I do it because I care and want to make a difference. It makes me proud that my colleagues and I are standing up and helping some of the most vulnerable members in society.
It’s a shame that our employer doesn’t feel the same.
We’ve been in dispute with St Mungo’s senior management over a number of issues since January; issues that we feel are a serious threat to our jobs and the integrity of the service.
After he walked out of the talks, Howard Sinclair, the chief executive said that changes to the junior staffing cap were necessary and that increasing the number of entry level staff in some services can be done in a safe and proportionate way – I’m not convinced.
The junior staffing cap was negotiated with Unite in 2013 to safeguard the professionalism and experience of front line jobs like mine, without it there is nothing to stop St Mungo’s from replacing skilled project workers with lower paid junior assistants, and that worries me.
It’s unfair on project workers. It’s unfair on the junior staff, who will be paid less for doing the same job, without the skills and experience. But ultimately it’s unfair on our clients who deserve better than a cut price, bargain basement service.
I would like Howard Sinclair and the senior management team to know that morale is at rock bottom. Good colleagues are leaving because of the stress.
I will be voting yes for strike action because I don’t feel like I have any other choice.
Want to help our St Mungo’s members?
Please support Unite’s St Mungo’s members by spreading the word on Twitter, using the #StMungosExposed #TimeToListen and sharing the graphics
And if you work at St Mungo’s, please share your story of why you’re voting yes for strike action: https://www.unitetheunion.org/stmungos
Click for more information on the dispute
Watch the video