One Housing Group staff vote for second three-day strike in five weeks

The Unite union says it expects about 150 staff at the housing association to walk out next week over an ongoing pay dispute

Unite members at One Housing Group
Unite members at One Housing Group

Unite members at the housing association One Housing Group have voted to return to the picket line for the second time in five weeks in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Unite said that about 150 workers from a workforce of about 1,200 are expected to take part in another three-day strike next week. The trade union has accused the housing association, which manages 15,000 homes across London and south-east England, of refusing to negotiate.

Union members at the housing association went on strike for three days last month.

The union said members had been angered by the housing association imposing average pay cuts of £2,000 on 200 front-line supported housing workers. Some have been asked to accept reductions as high as £8,000, the union said. It criticised the association for increasing the salary of its chief executive, Mike Sweeney, by £31,000 in pay and bonuses to £176,000 a year.

Since the previous strike, Onay Kasab, Unite’s regional officer, said no one at the group had responded to contact made by the conciliation service Acas in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

"The employers have simply refused to listen or to sit down with us and come up with any ways to resolve the dispute," said Kasab.

"This has increased support for our campaign and, rather than people becoming disenchanted and feeling it’s not going anywhere, the mood is swinging in our favour. It’s up to the company now to come back and say ‘we can’t cover the staff pay while we award huge pay increases to the chief executive’."

Kevin Beirne, group director of housing, care and support at One Housing Group, said that 95 per cent of the 230 care and support staff affected by the changes had accepted them.

He said in a statement: "We always remain open to discussion and have made this clear. The changes we are making are the result of the significantly reduced prices being paid for care and support contracts across London and south-east England.

"While we are disappointed that Unite has decided to take this action given that so few staff are yet to agree to the new terms and conditions, we are confident that we will once again be providing a full service during any strike action."

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