Indefinite strike goes on as charity workers reject pay offer

St Mungo’s said it is ‘extremely disappointed’ by the decision

(Photograph: St Mungo’s)

An indefinite strike by charity workers will continue after they turned down a pay offer labelled “paltry” by Unite the Union.

St Mungo’s said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, which it said came despite the offer being negotiated and agreed with Unite and Acas.

In a press release, the trade union, which represents 800 workers at the charity, said the package that was offered was “aimed at splitting the workforce and breaking the indefinite strike”.

It added that the pay offer “falls short” of ridding workers of their fears of being unable to pay their rent or mortgage.

According to Unite, St Mungo’s increased its pay offer from 2.25 per cent to a “paltry” 3.7 per cent.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said: “St Mungo’s latest pay offer was a cynical attempt to divide the workforce and break the strike. That tactic has crashed and burned. So my advice is to get real and offer a fair pay increase to help these dedicated workers make ends meet. 

“The workforce continues to have their union’s total support.”

The indefinite strike began on 27 June, after the trade union balloted more than 500 St Mungo’s workers across southern England, including in London, Bristol, Brighton, Oxford, Bournemouth and Reading. 

Steve O’Donnell, regional officer of Unite, said: “It’s plain wrong that workers on the frontline of the fight against homelessness are living in fear of not being able to pay the rent.

“Management needs to stop wasting time tinkering and make a real pay offer.”

Emma Haddad, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said the charity was “extremely disappointed that Unite the Union’s members have today voted to reject the offer” it had negotiated with the trade union.

She continued: “We understand the pressures that the cost-of-living crisis is placing on some of our colleagues and we went to great lengths to put forward a comprehensive 10-part package. 

“This included a new consolidated pay offer designed to support colleagues and significant improvements to the wider benefit package.”

Haddad said that, had the offer been accepted, more than 90 per cent of colleagues would have received “a minimum increase of £2,975 for the current financial year when added to the annual pay award”, which she said was equivalent to a pay rise of between 7 per cent and 14 per cent.

“It is highly regrettable that Unite has not accepted the latest offer at a time when the demand for our services is increasing.

“We need to ensure the charity is sustainable going forward so we can continue to deliver services to some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Hadded said the outcome meant negotiations would continue “so we can bring an end to this unprecedented period of strike action”.

Founded in 1969, St Mungo’s had a total income of more than £118m last year, according to accounts filed by the charity. Its expenditure was also £118m.

The charity has 1,550 employees, 10 trustees and 1,297 volunteers, with five members of staff on a salary of more than £100,000. 

The dispute between Unite members and St Mungo’s has been rumbling on for many months.

In May, union members rejected what Unite called a “pitiful” pay increase offer. 

It followed an offer from the charity’s bosses to raise the original salary increase from 1.75 per cent to what Unite said amounted to an average of 2.25 per cent per frontline worker, as part of a bid to end the long-running dispute.

The charity said the 1.75 per cent increase was the pay rise for 2021/22 and the latest amount was on top of the 2023/24 pay rise, which was still being negotiated with the National Joint Council.

St Mungo’s said its additional offer was capped to focus on staff on lower salaries and would mean the lowest-paid employees would have benefitted the most because both offers were fixed sum increases.

It said staff earning up to £25,000 a year were expected to gain at least a 10 per cent increase.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in