Housing workers in Hackney strike in pay dispute  

Unite members picketing a Sanctuary premises in Hackney. Pic: X/Twitter 

Dozens of housing association maintenance workers in Hackney  have staged a strike over pay and conditions and union recognition. 

More than 50 members of the Unite Union, working for the Sanctuary Housing Association and based in Hackney took strike action on February 29, March 1 and March 4.

Sanctuary Housing, whose head office is in Worcester, is a non-for-profit organisation that provides affordable housing and care for local residents across England and Scotland. There are over 120,000 homes that are managed, and 14,000 thousand employees across the organisation. 

This marked the first time that Sanctuary Housing workers have gone on strike, which impacted scheduled and emergency repairs services for Sanctuary Housing tenants across London after a 100% unanimous vote in favour of the strikes by the union on a 60% turnout.  

Unite told Eastlondonlines: “Adding to tensions, is the fact that Sanctuary Housing has completely ignored the workers’ requests for their union, Unite, to be recognised and has locked them out of collective pay negotiations. Currently, Sanctuary Housing does not engage in pay negotiations with any trade union.”

A key part of the workers’ grievance is that Sanctuary Housing provided only a 4% pay rise when inflation (RPI) at the time was 11.4%. 

Sanctuary Housing revenues for last year stood at £943m, with its surplus increasing by 73% to £101.3m and its CEO, Craig Moule, allegedly earns £365,000 a year.  

The workers said in response that: “Bosses have said ‘No’ for too long.” 

Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary said about the strikes: “Sanctuary Housing has behaved appallingly. It imposed a significant pay cut on its workers during the worst cost of living crisis in a generation despite its extremely healthy financial position. It is also refusing to recognise the collective bargaining rights of its unionised workers. This is completely unacceptable, and our Sanctuary members have their union’s unwavering and total support.” 

Ryan Fletcher, the Unite communications officer told Eastlondonlines that: “…[M]ore strike action will be announced in the coming days.”

Sanctuary did not respond to request for comment from Eastlondonlines.

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