A quarter of Shelter staff yet to sign new contracts

More than 200 staff at Shelter have been given until the end of next month to sign new employment contracts. Those who don't sign could lose their jobs.

Staff voted 211 to 78 in favour of going on strike next week (Third Sector Online, 22 February) in protest at proposed longer hours and an end to incremental pay rises.

According to management at the homelessness charity, 73 per cent of the 800-strong permanent workforce have agreed to the adjusted employment conditions, designed to help the organisation remain competitive when bidding for contracts.

Trade union Unite disputed the figure and claimed staff were being pressured into signing. "A lot of people have signed under protest because they feel intimidated and feel they have to," said a member of the union shop stewards committee who asked not to be named.

The member added that next Wednesday's strike would not be the last if management did not return to the negotiating table.

A Shelter spokesman said it did not plan to attend any further discussions and added: "We have never pressured any staff to sign the new contracts.

"We have been negotiating with the trade unions, staff and managers for nine months. Through emails, management briefings and questions and answers, we are giving our staff all the information we can."

Andy Erlam, chair of the central London branch of the T&G section of Unite, said: "This is a watershed for the sector because Shelter is such a well-known charity. But market forces rule and we are working towards charities being a low-price provider for the Government on social provision."

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