Unite appeals to St Mungo’s board to ‘help rebuild trust’ ahead of strike ballot result
- Monday 27 January 2020
Unite has appealed to the St Mungo's board of trustees to ‘help rebuild trust’ by persuading senior management to reconsider its position and join last-ditch talks, ahead of the strike ballot result, which is due next Monday (3 February).
Unite is balloting over 500 members at the homelessness charity for a second time in less than six months in a dispute over the tearing up of the junior staffing cap agreement, which risks reinstatement of ‘race to the bottom’ terms and conditions, as well as overly harsh sickness and disciplinary policies.
In an open letter to the St Mungo’s board chair, Robert Napier and 12 board members, published today (Monday 27 January), Unite staff representatives have said: ‘We are proud of what we do. But we’ve had enough of the threats to our jobs, union and professionalism.’
Criticising the CEO Howard Sinclair for his ‘hostile handling of the dispute’, the Unite reps, point out that the CEO should not be spending donors’ money on hiring an expensive London PR firm to trash the union, or to use his own words ‘stop more people joining [the union] and erode support.’
The letter warns that it will ‘take time to rebuild trust’, but urges the board to ‘use its influence’ to persuade the senior management team to return to the table and negotiate with the union in good faith, so that staff can get back to doing what they do best; helping homeless people rebuild their lives.
Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “In a week’s time, the results of our second ballot will be in, but whatever the outcome Robert Napier and the board of trustees must see that trust between our members and Howard Sinclair’s management team has broken down.
“This dispute has dragged on for nearly a year and in that time Mr Sinclair has failed to grasp the seriousness of the issues at stake. He has sought to dismiss the union’s members as rabble with no support, when their utmost concern throughout has been to protect the integrity and quality of the charity’s work.
“Tearing up the junior staffing cap agreement is the thin end of the edge. It was negotiated by the union to safeguard higher skilled job roles, without it there is nothing to stop wholesale job restructuring and reinstatement of ‘race to the bottom’ terms and conditions.
“The fact is a lower paid, lower skilled workforce will not be able to deliver the same standard of service.
“Rebuilding trust will take time, particularly after Howard Sinclair revealed his true colours in a misdirected email in which he revealed that he was working with an expensive London PR agency on a strategy of eroding union organisation within the union.
“The board must now intervene and persuade the senior management team to return to the negotiating table with the commitment to work with Unite to settle this dispute in good faith.”
For more information please contact Unite campaigns coordinator Chantal Chegrinec on 020 3371 2063 or 07774 146 777. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065
Note to editors
The first ballot in September 2019 missed the 50 per cent legal threshold by one single vote, with 78 per cent of Unite members voting for strike action.
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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.