Housing association staff demonstrate over pay cut

The protest, which took place outside the offices of Sanctuary Housing Group this morning, and highlighted the difference between the chief executive's £320,000 salary and the pay cuts of three employees

Sanctuary Housing Group headquarters
Sanctuary Housing Group headquarters

A protest took place this morning outside the head office of the housing association Sanctuary Housing Group in Worcester after 340 staff got pay reductions, with three staff given pay cuts of £8,000.

Six people attended the protest, which was organised by the trade union Unite after Sanctuary told the employees, who work in the group’s supported living department, they would receive the reductions to their salaries from May 2017.

The pay cut came as part of a review by Sanctuary, an exempt charity and one of the UK’s largest housing providers, of the terms and conditions of 1,502 of its 11,000 staff in June and July. The charity said it was a way of ensuring "equitable pay and conditions for our employees and a sustainable operating model".

In a statement released ahead of the protest, Adam Lambert, regional officer at Unite, said: "It is despicable that a so-called social landlord can treat its workforce, who support some of the most vulnerable people in society, in such a shameful way.

"This is one of the richest organisations within the housing sector with huge surpluses and a chief executive paying himself a massive salary. If anyone should be taking a pay cut to fund the national living wage it should be the chief executive."

He said that Sanctuary employees had experienced a "bullying" management culture, "impossible" workloads, long hours and stressful working conditions. Unite does not release the numbers of union members at any organisation.

The protest involved Unite members giving members of the public a "trick or treat", which the union said was to highlight the difference between the wages of Sanctuary’s chief executive, David Bennett, who earns £320,000 a year, and the pay cut the staff were facing.

But Nicole Seymour, director of corporate services at Sanctuary, said in a statement that of those consulted about the changes to terms and conditions, said that of the 1,502 staff who were consulted over the changes, 1,018 would receive an increase in their salary and 144 will see no change in their salary.

"Even though only a small number of colleagues are adversely affected, we recognise how difficult this is for them, and as such, we have committed to protecting their salaries until 1 May 2017," she said.

She also said that Sanctuary was not aware of any reports of a poor working environment or bad management practices, but "would take any allegations of that nature extremely seriously".

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