Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has given notice of its intention to ballot members working at the homeless charity St Mungo’s for strike action after the collapse of Acas talks last Friday (26 July).

The ballot of over 500 members, who provide help and support for vulnerable homeless people across the South East, in London, Brighton and Bristol, will open on Monday 5 August and close on Monday 9 September

Unite is deeply disappointed that St Mungo’s senior management has decided to abandon Acas talks without offering any significant movement on the core issues in dispute.

Unite will continue to warn that the charity’s move to tear up the union-negotiated junior staffing cap agreement will lead to the reinstatement of race-to-the-bottom terms and conditions. It further argues that replacing experienced project workers with lower paid assistant positions will harm services.

In the coming weeks, Unite will be stepping up its campaign to safeguard the jobs and the professionalism of its members. Local councillors are being contacted about the threat to jobs and what this means for the homeless services they commission from St Mungo’s.

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “It is with deep regret that Unite will begin balloting its members at the homeless charity St Mungo’s for strike action.

“Our members are deeply committed to the work they do - their first priority will always be the people they support. They genuinely fear that if St Mungo’s gets away with tearing up their trade union agreements and reinstating ‘race-to-the-bottom’ terms and conditions, the service will suffer.

“Over the last year we have seen a huge amount of restructuring within the service. Further restructuring without the safeguards of the junior staffing cap agreement will place St Mungo’s on a slippery slope to replacing experienced project workers with low paid junior assistants.

“This strike ballot is about protecting the integrity and professionalism of our members’ jobs and the service provided to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

“We will continue to warn local councils of the threat to the services they are commissioning from St Mungo’s as a result of the charity’s short-sighted attack on our members’ jobs and working conditions.

“We regret that it has come to this but the ball is in St Mungo’s court.”