Shelter strike called off after 'improved offer'

The Unite union says it will ballot its members at the housing charity about the proposals, which include better rates of pay for new starters


The union Unite has suspended a three-day strike at the housing charity Shelter.

About 400 union members at the charity had voted to go on strike from today in a dispute about changes to pay for front-line staff.

Unite had said that the charity, which employs 1,300 people, including those working in its shops, planned to make changes that could have led to pay cuts of up to £5,000 a year for new advice and support workers and £3,000 for existing front-line staff. It had said that the pay of existing front-line staff was being guaranteed only until 2016.

But the union announced yesterday that, after talks at the conciliation service Acas, the charity had put forward an improved offer, including better rates of pay for new starters and the withdrawal of proposals to review existing staff pay next year.

Peter Storey, regional officer at Unite, said the offer "represents a significant improvement on previous offers by the charity and will be put to our members in a ballot over the coming days".

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Both sides have been working up to the wire to try to avert this week’s strike action and are delighted that the efforts made on all sides have proved successful. We very much hope that union members will respond positively to the new offer now on the table."

Robb said that increasing numbers of people were coming to it for help at a time when there was more competition for donations and cuts to government funding for services.

"We increasingly face a simple but awful choice: continue to pay some new jobs above the typical salary, as we do currently, and face cutting some of our services and making some roles redundant; or pay the median salaries for new staff and maintain the number of people we are able to help.

"Decisions on these issues are tough and not ones any of us wants to make. Along with the package of measures we were able to agree with the union, we were also pleased to reaffirm that we have no plans to review the pay rates of existing staff."

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