A survey of members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, employed in housing associations, has revealed that a decade of austerity has led to workers believing they are not being properly rewarded for the work they undertake. The survey also highlighted issues of stress and mental health in the sector

Pay gap

Over 320 Unite members employed in housing associations in England and Wales completed the survey. The survey found that 62 per cent did not believe that their pay had kept pace with the cost of living.

The survey also found that 80 per cent of respondents had experienced work related stress in the past year. Forty four per cent felt that their workplace was not good for their mental health.

Badly organised workplace

Over 4 in 10 (41 per cent) did not feel they worked for a well-managed organisation. Forty two per cent did not feel valued at work.

Unite will use the findings of the survey to pressurise housing associations to tackle workers’ pay, with above inflation pay increases and to begin repairing the damage caused by a decade of austerity.

Also in response to the survey Unite is stepping up its efforts to ensure that its representatives have the tools to tackle stress and mental health problems in the workplace.

A guide to how representatives can challenge employers on workplace issues that cause mental health problems and stress has been produced. Reps are also being encouraged to sign up for mental health awareness training.

Decade of austerity

Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “Our members are suffering financial misery as a result of the government’s decade of austerity.

“Workers report that workloads are increasing while pay is falling in real terms. Unite will not allow members’ financial wellbeing to continue to be eroded.

“The Unite survey shows that members who felt that they worked for a union friendly employer correlated strongly with those that believed that they had higher satisfaction with pay, were well-managed, felt valued at work, had equal pay for work of equal value, worked in a safe and healthy environment, had a good work life balance and were satisfied with their hours of work, annual and parental leave, and the levels of consultation and involvement in decisions that affected their work.

“Too often the survey shows that members’ pay and conditions have not kept pace with the cost of living, while job insecurity, poor management and long hours are high on the list of concerns.

“Unite believes that everybody deserves to feel valued at work, work for a well-managed, union friendly organisations, with secure jobs with a good work life balance, fair and decent pay and conditions, have good access to training and development and consultation and involvement in the decisions that affect them.

“The survey’s results highlight that not having access to appropriate training for your job, long working hours, low morale, poor management and lack of involvement in work decisions often go hand in hand with anti-union employers and work that is bad for our mental health.

“The survey’s findings are profoundly disturbing, it is clear workplace stress is at epidemic levels in housing associations and the working environment is damaging the mental wellbeing of staff.

“It is imperative that senior management in housing associations takes a long hard look at their organisation and make dramatic changes to alleviate stress and mental health problems.

“Nobody should be made ill as a result of going to work.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

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