Strikes at the St Mungo’s housing charity have been called off after the management agreed to an independent review into bullying grievances raised by staff, Unite said on Thursday (July 15).
Unite warned there is still a ‘culture of fear’ at the charity that staff will be disciplined or suspended for speaking out about bullying or inappropriate or concerning behaviour. This in turn could lead to safeguarding issues, which is of particular concern in hostels that house vulnerable residents.
Around a dozen members of Unite, who are responsible for day-to-day repairs of the charity’s housing units, have been on all out strike since April 22.
The strike was called after several staff grievances over bullying against property services senior management were dismissed.
Following three months of strike action, the workers voted to return to work after it was agreed that an independent review will take place over the charity’s handling of the grievances and that Unite will be involved in the review.
Unite said it will continue to fight against the suspension of one of its reps for raising the grievances, who St Mungo’s have said will not be reinstated until the review is over.
St Mungo’s property services department is responsible for the day-to-day repairs for the charity’s 3,200 units, which are located in London, Bristol, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth, Brighton and Reading
Unite regional officer Steve O’Donnell said, “Unite requested the review in February and management’s intransigence on its scope led to the dispute. Only after the impact of strike and pressure from some commissioners have they now agreed to a full and proper independent review.
“We remain concerned that until the independent review has concluded our rep remains suspended for raising a grievance regarding bullying from management,” he added. “We continue to call for that suspension to be lifted.
“There remains a culture of fear amongst St Mungo’s employees that they can be suspended and disciplined for raising legitimate concerns over serious issues such as bullying or inappropriate or concerning behaviour,” O’Donnell continued.
“When people are frightened to speak up the risk of safeguarding issues increases. This is of particular concern in hostels where vulnerable people are housed. Unite calls on St Mungo’s to recognise this risk and engage in good faith with the union to rectify it.”
By Ryan Fletcher