Industrial action could hit the housing charity Shelter following moves to impose a new pay scale which could lead to pay cuts of up to £5,000 a year for new advice and support workers and £3,000 for existing frontline staff.
A strike ballot of over 330 members of Britain’s largest union, Unite closes later this week on Thursday (4 December) after the charity’s management walked away from talks despite warnings from Unite that the changes would create a two tier workforce.
In addition to cuts to new starter rates, Shelter is also seeking to impose a separate pay scale for existing frontline advice and support workers. The proposed scale differs from the one for non-frontline workers and could see some advice workers earning up to £3,000 a year less than colleagues working on the same grade, but in a different role.
Branding the new pay scale ‘short sighted’ and ‘grossly unfair’, Unite warned in a letter to the charity’s trustees that it would lead to a ‘brain drain’ saying: “It is argued that we will still be able to recruit people at the new levels of pay proposed. Our concern is not that we will be able to recruit at all, but that we will not be able to recruit and retain the colleagues we need to continue to deliver an excellent service. Colleagues have already reported difficulties in recruiting staff on new pay scales.”
Commenting, Unite regional officer Peter Storey said: “The proposed changes to pay are divisive and grossly unfair. Shelter’s frontline support and advice workers are the lifeblood of the charity, helping and supporting vulnerable people in difficult situations.
“It is disgraceful that the charity should seek to cut their pay by thousands of pounds while the pay of those with huge salaries at the top is protected. There appears to be one rule for one and one for another. It is not the way a progressive charity should behave.
“Not only will the proposed pay scale be bad for staff, but it will also be bad for the people the charity helps and supports. There is every danger that it will lead to a race to the bottom with experienced staff leaving and Shelter finding it difficult to find skilled replacements on the lower wages on offer.
“We would urge Shelter management to get back around the negotiating table to avoid damaging industrial action and reach an agreement that values their dedicated staff.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
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.