Charity workers plan strike over wage cuts

Centrepoint staff

Staff at a homeless charity in Tower Hamlets are preparing to strike in a bitter dispute over a pay cut.

Workers at the Centrepoint’s Aldgate East branch will join other  employees of the charity around  London on strike after it was announced that more than 100 staff face losing thousands from their annual salaries. Strike dates will be announced on Friday.

The charity was in crisis talks with the trade union Unite last night after 70 per cent of its members voted to take industrial action against the planned changes. The disclosure that senior executives will be ring-fenced from the cuts has not helped the situation.

Unite regional officer Matt Smith said: ”Our members are not prepared to accept that the lowest paid frontline staff should take savage pay cuts, while the senior management keep their pay at the same level.

”We need to prevent this charity from carrying out the cruellest of ironies – cutting our [frontline] members’ pay by so much it could potentially force them to join the very homeless that they do so much to help.”

Centrepoint’s chief executive Seyi Obakin remained defiant, accusing Unite of exaggerating support for the strike: “The union chooses to use out-of date accounts information to suit its argument and inflated claims of strike support.”

Unite research into Centrepoint’s 2010 accounts has revealed the organisation pays six of its senior executives over £60,000-a-year, with one being paid £110,000.

This is not the first time the charity, whose patron is Prince William, has landed itself in hot water. Staff were angry when Obakin left the pay negotiations to join the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to America. Unite described the trip as “an unnecessary sycophantic jaunt.”

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