New swingeing cuts to pay, and changes to policies and procedures governing working conditions at housing charity St Mungo’s Broadway have prompted a strike ballot of more than 500 workers.
The staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, at the west London-based charity are currently being balloted for industrial action. The ballot closes on Tuesday 7 October.
The source of staff discontent is, according to Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus, ‘a bizarre coup d’état’ which has seen Broadway, a ‘struggling’ organisation of 200 employees making year on year deficits merging with the highly successful 1,000- strong St Mungo’s and to all intents and purposes taking it over completely.
The ‘merger’ has resulted in four of the seven new executive team including the chief executive and the director of HR coming from Broadway.
The new executive team have imposed sweeping changes to workers' terms and conditions without consulting or negotiating with the union.
Nicky Marcus said that the new bosses had given themselves the customary massive pay hikes, including £30,000 for the new chief executive Howard Sinclair, she said: “They have slashed the pay of new starters by £5,000-a-year for a project worker, and for existing staff being restructured; taken pay out of collective bargaining; imposed new, draconian policies and procedures; and breached the recognition agreement with Unite repeatedly.
“Staff are furious. They are simply not prepared to stand by and watch the heart and soul being ripped out of their organisation; an organisation with a hard fought reputation built on quality - quality of services and quality of staff.
"Staff are, naturally concerned at the effect strike action will have on the vulnerable people within their care, but they are more concerned at the long-term profound, negative effects these changes will have on them.
“Cheap labour, downgraded roles, staff working under minimum standard policies and procedures are never a path to quality in social care.
“We urge the management to have a radical rethink of their current approach. They have exported an arrogant, controlling managerial style, downgraded policies, procedures, roles and pay rates from their own failing company to allegedly ‘secure the future’ of a highly successful, flourishing company with year on year surpluses and 10 per cent growth last year.
“The logic of that beggars belief. They are about to transform a high quality organisation with a reputation second to none into yet another low quality, minimum standards, race to the bottom business.
“And to compound the arrogant attitude of the new management team, we haven't been presented with a single shred of evidence to suggest the financial necessity for any of what is being imposed.”
Union members have passed a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the new executive team to manage and lead the newly merged charity and are now voting on taking industrial action.
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus on 07980 721 425. Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.