St Mungo's Broadway staff to stage another strike from 5 November

Unite union members at the homelessness charity plan a further 10 days of industrial action over pay and conditions

St Mungo’s Broadway
St Mungo’s Broadway

Union members at the homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway are to strike for 10 days as part of a continuing dispute over pay and conditions.

Members of the Unite union walked out for seven days last week and have said today that they plan a further 10 days of industrial action from 5 November.

The union said it had 650 members at the charity, which employs a total of about 1,300 people.

Unite said the dispute concerned what it called "sweeping changes" to employees’ terms and conditions and to HR practices after the merger of St Mungo’s and Broadway earlier this year.

The union, which said that members had already passed a vote of no confidence in senior management, said that the starting annual salary of a new project worker had been cut from £25,000 to £20,000 and that significant changes had been made to HR policies and procedures without consultation with the union. 

Nicky Marcus, Unite regional officer, accused the charity of providing the union with accounts designed to  "obscure"  a termination payment of almost £160,000 made to Charles Fraser, who retired as chief executive of St Mungo’s after 33 years with the charity, before the merger with Broadway in April. 

The charity’s published accounts show that he received a total pay package of £274,000 in 2013/14, including "termination payments in accordance with contractual agreement" of £157,538.

Marcus said: "We don’t know as yet what other pay-offs have been made. The top executives refuse to provide details of their own salary hikes, although we are aware that new chief executive Howard Sinclair’s increase is £30,000."

A parliamentary motion, tabled last week by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP for Islington North, expresses support for workers at the charity and calls on senior management and the board to act to resolve the dispute immediately.

The early day motion, which has been supported by a total of 16 MPs, all of them from the Labour Party, "condemns the significant pay rises to the executive including one to the chief executive of more than £30,000" and "contrasts this rise with a claim that front-line pay must be removed from collective bargaining and cut by 19 per cent, thus ignoring the union representing the majority of the workforce and imposing these unnecessary changes via a retrospective consultation and following the provision of highly questionable financial information".

A meeting of union members at the charity was this week addressed by Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, who pledged the union’s full support "in every way possible in a pivotal dispute that is really about respect – respect for vulnerable people and the workers that care for them", according to a statement from Unite.

The charity was not able to comment before publication of this story. Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s Broadway, said in a statement before the initial strike action: "I am obviously disappointed that industrial action will be going ahead, given that we are not cutting jobs or the pay or terms and conditions of existing staff.

"I am willing, as I always have been, to meet union representatives to discuss alternative suggestions to managing the challenges we face.

"Our priority remains providing services of the highest quality for the increasing numbers of clients we are seeing, within the ever-tighter economic environment."

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