Hardline policies by the Turning Point charity, headed by Lord Victor Adebowale, have forced some staff members to resort to food banks to survive, Unite, the country’s largest union, said.
Unite said that the 2,600 staff will be told this week that they have until 17 May to sign new contracts on inferior terms and conditions – otherwise they will be out of a job.
Unite said that Turning Point had agreed to the union’s request that the dispute is referred to the conciliation service, Acas – but had refused to withdraw its notice terminating employees’ current contracts in the meantime.
Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said: “Several members have already reported to us that they are dependant upon food banks due to the lack of pay rises. This will only be compounded if the cuts go ahead.”
Unite said that the underlying problem at the charity - dedicated to helping those with mental health, substance abuse and employment problems - stems from the coalition’s harsh austerity measures that have meant swingeing cuts to some of the most vulnerable in society.
Lord Adebowale recently spoke in the House of Lords of his concerns with the reforms. He said: “I am worried that the impact of welfare changes, spending cuts to services and rising living costs could contribute to a further increase in the use of food banks.”
Sally Kosky said: “We would ask Lord Victor to also worry about the impact of his own proposals that will further increase the use of food banks among his own workforce.”
Industrial action is one of the options being considered, as some of its members could be out of pocket to the tune of £10,000-a-year as a result of these ‘shabby’ new contracts.
Workers, who are former NHS employees, feel particularly betrayed as they are having hard earned TUPE protections swept away, including redundancy rights - this is of particular concern, as Turning Point is still targeting new contracts from NHS services, and the fact that Lord Adebowale is a member of the NHS Commissioning Board.
The 2,600 staff affected work in hundreds of community projects and services in England and Wales.
Turning Point was created to help people find a new direction in life by helping those with substance misuse, mental health issues, a learning disability, or employment difficulties by providing tailored personalised care.
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Jamie Major on 07879 692021 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.