Workers at a homeless charity will begin ten days of strike action this week, after executives slashed the pay of new staff without warning.
Employees of St Mungo’s Broadway, which runs hostels in Hackney and Lewisham, will protest from November 5, after senior management announced a £5,000, or 19 per cent, pay reduction for new frontline personnel.
The action follows a previous seven-day strike, which ended on October 24 and saw 19 picket lines across the country, including at Hackney and Lewisham Town Halls.
Workers claim that CEO, Howard Sinclair, implemented the pay cuts without any prior staff consultation. However, according to a Unite representative, they coincided with a £30,000 pay rise for senior management.
Councillors, union officers and staff have agreed that reducing frontline workers’ pay will compromise the charity’s ability to deliver quality services to vulnerable people.
Nicky Marcus, regional officer of Unite, said the St Mungo’s workforce have been forced to take further strike action. She said: “Although councils are threatening to remove their contracts and although 675 staff members were on strike, they [executives] didn’t move, so unfortunately there is no choice but to strike again.”
She also voiced concern the pay change has breached contracts made with local councils, who fund the charity, and may cause them to withdraw. A 60-bed hostel currently situated in Mare Street, Hackney is one of the services facing re-evaluation.
She said: “He [Sinclair] is destroying the reputation of a charity built up over decades as well as destroying relationships with local councils.”
“That money [provided by councils] is public money, which should be spent on a public service, not lining the pockets of executives.”
Hackney councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, said: “We are aware of the proposed reduction in salaries for new staff, many of whom will be charged with supporting extremely vulnerable individuals.”
“We are concerned about the apparent lack of any staff consultation regarding the proposed changes and about the ability of St Mungo’s Broadway to deliver effective services that are not compromised by any downgrading of staff roles.”
However, the organisation has claimed that the cuts were unavoidable and insists that clients’ wellbeing remains their priority.
A spokesperson from St Mungo’s said: “We have had to take these [cuts] measures because of the pressures organisations working in our sector face as the money available to pay for services for homeless people is reduced, while demand for these services increases.”
“We are not the only organisation which has faced difficult circumstances of this kind and have taken the decision to honour the pay and terms of our existing staff.”