St Mungo’s workers celebrate victory over pay cuts dispute

Victory rally for St. Mungo's. Pic: Jacqui Agate

Victory rally for St. Mungo’s. Pic: Jacqui Agate

A victory rally replaced St Mungo’s Broadway’s planned strike action today, after executives agreed to meet union demands.

Workers at the homeless charity, which runs hostels in Hackney and Lewisham, were set to strike for ten days as bosses announced a £5,000, or 19 per cent, pay cut for new frontline staff.

The cuts were made without consultation and coincided with an alleged £30,000 pay rise for senior management.

The strike would have been the second in a one-month period, after workers came out in protest for seven days in October.

However, union representatives Nicky Marcus, Jon Hughes and Adam Lambert spent yesterday locked in talks with SMB directors at ACAS and managed to renegotiate plans.

Adam Lambert, Unite convenor for St Mungo’s Broadway, said at the rally: “Unite has delivered a lot of ultimatums to management in the past few months and we’ve delivered on all those ultimatums.”

Unite banner at Victory Rally at St. Mungo's. Pic: Jacqui Agate

Unite banner at Victory Rally at St. Mungo’s. Pic: Jacqui Agate

The triumph includes an agreement that all new starters will be back on agreed NJC rates and there will be no changes to HR policies and procedures without prior negotiation with Unite.

Staff, councillors and union representatives celebrated the result outside St Mungo’s Head Office in Hammersmith today, following the announcements last night.

The planned cuts led to a council re-evaluation of the service provided by a 60-bed hostel in Mare Street, Hackney.

Mervin Sealy, deputy manager at the Hackney hostel, said he hoped that it could now “go forward”.

He said: “A lot of people come into this work and stay in this work because they’re committed and believe in the work that they do. What they [St Mungo’s executives] were planning [cuts] would have totally destroyed the whole ethos of St Mungo’s. We are dealing with the most vulnerable people in society.”

He added: “We all understand and appreciate that changes have to be made, but it’s the approach and how it’s done that’s important. Ignoring Unite as a union, who represent the workers of this service, is the wrong way to go about it.”

Controversial CEO Howard Sinclair also came down from his Griffin House office to address the rally.

He said: “No strike comes without wounds and we need to heal those…I believe that we can unite around what we’re most passionate about, which is doing the very best we can by each other, making this the most decent organisation to work for and putting our clients at the heart of everything we do together.”

“The irony in all of this is that we agree with each other: we are being put in an invidious position by the decisions that are being made about our funding. Everyone here knows that; everyone believes that we need to influence and fight on that.”

However, employees and union representatives remain concerned about the alleged pay rise that senior staff have benefited from.

Jeers from the rallying crowd demanded that Sinclair “take a pay cut”.

In response, Sinclair said: “I’m going back to work now; you’re going back to work now. You’re going to have a little moan about my pay for a little bit longer. I will come and talk to you about that in the near future. “

Banner at St. Mungo's Victory Rally. Pic: Jacqui Agate

Banner at St. Mungo’s Victory Rally. Pic: Jacqui Agate

Despite this, Union representatives praised the “solidarity” of the striking workers, which helped them land their “victory”.

Lambert said: “How long will this agreement last? There’s no time scale, but it’s true of every agreement and every right that we have in society, that our rights last, and our agreements last, as long as we will fight for them.”


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