Over 500 workers at the housing charity Shelter will stage a two week strike next month, in response to the organisation’s management attempting to impose a real terms pay cut on its staff.

Strike vote

The workers, who are based across the UK, returned an 85 per cent vote in favour of industrial action and will begin strike action on Monday 5 December, with the strike ending on Sunday 18 December.

Management at Shelter has sought to impose a three per cent pay increase on staff, which is a huge real terms pay cut with the true inflation rate (RPI) currently standing at 12.6 per cent. Management has refused to return to the negotiating table and has instead begun to impose one off payments. These will leave pay rates at unacceptably low levels and fail to take into account rampant inflation.

Workers left with no option

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Shelter’s workers are absolutely dedicated to the organisation but they have been forced to take strike action as management refused to listen and understand their financial plight. Rather than sit on ever expanding reserves, Shelter should be paying its workers a fair pay rise.

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members, the workers at Shelter will receive the union’s unstinting support.”

Unite believes that Shelter is fully able to make a fair pay offer. Its reserves last year stood at around £14.5 million, substantially higher than its target reserves of £8.9 million.

Workers' speak

Commentating on the decision to go on strikes one member of Shelter’s staff said: “The work we undertake, particularly in frontline services, is so valuable and clients depend on our teams. But that shouldn't mean they have to sacrifice a decent and dignified living because the work they are drawn to is in this sector. At the very base level, absolute bare minimum, those working for a housing charity shouldn't be experiencing housing insecurity as a result of being unable to pay rent.”

Another added: “I really care about the work and I think it's recognised that I work hard - but I don't feel right now my employer cares about me. I'm a single parent. I'm now in overdraft every month, I go around switching my lights off, I have turned my boiler down, I get stressed when the kids school wants me to pay for another school trip. The best acknowledgement my employer can give me for all my hard work is decent pay.”

Substantial disruption

Unite regional officer Peter Storey said: “Strike action will inevitably cause substantial disruption to the services that Shelter provides. However, the organisation has created this dispute through the arrogant and high-handed manner in which it has treated its loyal workers.”


Notes to editors:

Shelter workers begin balloting for strike action following insulting pay offer

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.