Shelter staff vote to strike over plans to cut pay

Ken Loach, who directed the TV drama Cathy Come Home, has stepped into the pay dispute at Shelter by urging donors to stop giving money to the charity.

Loach, whose 1966 drama raised the profile of homelessness in the year Shelter was born, said people should stop giving money to the charity until the management agreed to review their contract proposals. Loach described the situation as “intolerable”.

His comments come as staff at the charity voted to strike over management plans to increase hours and cut pay to win more government contracts.

The results of the strike ballot, announced on Friday, found 211 staff in favour of industrial action and 78 against. Four ballot papers were spoiled.

A strike date has not been set but it could happen at any time from 5 March. “We are disappointed that some staff will take strike action,” said Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter. “The scale of change is challenging and we appreciate that feelings are running high. However, our concern in these circumstances is to continue to provide quality services for vulnerable people in housing need.

“It is difficult for everyone who is having to make these changes, especially when our staff are so committed and work so hard for some of the most at risk people in Britain. But as a charity we have to contain our costs or we will not be able to provide the services we have become famous for over the past 40 years.”

Alan Scott, regional industrial organiser at trade union Unite, called for management to return to negotiations with mediation service Acas.

“Our desire to take strike action is nil and we would rather the management would talk about this further, but they have refused,” Scott said.

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