CEO slammed for weaponising coronavirus  

Unite, the UK’s and Ireland’s largest union, has warned the CEO of the homeless charity St Mungo’s, Howard Sinclair to ‘stop blaming staff for your leadership mistakes’ as hundreds of workers get set for three days of strike action from Monday (16 March).

The strike from 00:01 Monday (16 March) to 23:59 Wednesday (18 March) comes after St Mungo’s senior management team rejected a sensible, middle ground solution to the ‘race to the bottom’ jobs row.

Unite has been locked in a bitter industrial dispute with the charity for over a year, over a number of issues, including a punitive sickness policy and changes it made to the junior staffing cap, which workers’ fear opens the door to a cheaper workforce on worse pay and terms and conditions. Safety would also be undermined.

In a message from the charity’s frontline staff to their vulnerable ‘clients’, Unite members said: “Your safety is our priority, which is why we feel so strongly about standing up to defend the services we deliver to you.”

In response to the CEO’s calls for the strike to be suspended because of the cornavirus outbreak, Unite has said that it will follow government guidance and not be bullied by Mr Sinclair.

Unite regional officer, Tabusam Ahmed said: "St Mungo's workers have tried their utmost to arrive at a reasonable settlement with their employer and have been rejected at every turn. 

“For our members the safety of their clients is their number one priority and they will take strike action with very heavy hearts. But believe it is the only way to defend the future of St Mungo’s services.

“It is time for Mr Sinclair to stop blaming staff for his leadership mistakes and take responsibility for the breakdown in industrial relations.  We were willing to compromise, he was not.

“We have warned that the attacks on jobs, the reinstatement of ‘race to the bottom’ conditions and discriminatory disciplinary procedures are putting a severe strain on staff and the services they deliver to homeless people.

“We appeal to Mr Sinclair and the board to rethink their approach, as the charity cannot function as it should do and serve those who need it, while relationships between staff and employers are stretched to breaking point."


For more information please contact, Unite campaigns coordinator, Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777 or 0203 371 2063.

Note to editors:

Picket line and rally details for London, Bristol and Brighton:

Unite will also follow the ‘severe weather emergency protocol’ (SWEP), and suspend strike action should it become necessary.  

Read *Martin’s story to find out why he’s striking:

Read Unite member story on why they’re striking:

Unite yesterday welcomed St Mungo’s commitment to change its sickness policy in light of cornavirus, but it must go further and scrap the onerous requirement of making workers call two people when off sick.

Junior staffing cap explained:

The junior staffing cap agreement which was negotiated by the union in 2013, set a ratio of one duty worker for four project workers (a more senior and better paid role) and was developed jointly to protect high quality services.

St Mungo’s, which changed the junior staffing cap ratio to one duty worker, per two project workers, last spring, rejected a proposal made by Acas at meeting on 17 February of one duty worker, per three project workers, despite the minimal costs involved in adopting this middle ground option.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.