St Mungo's maintenance staff to stage indefinite strike

The homelessness charity denies claims by the union Unite that it has an anti-union agenda

The homelessness charity St Mungo’s had denied it has a “bullying and anti-union culture” after maintenance staff voted to begin indefinite strike action later this month.

The walkout by employees in the charity’s property services department follows a claim in March by the union Unite of an anti-union bias by senior management at St Mungo’s.

Unite, which has more than 500 members at St Mungo’s, claimed that almost half of its workplace reps at the charity were being targeted by management and were engaged in formal processes concerning their own employment.

The charity refutes all the claims and says it has a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment.

There are 16 staff in the charity’s property services department, 12 of whom are Unite members.

Eight voted in favour of the industrial action, but the other four did not participate in the vote.

The department is responsible for the day-to-day repairs for the charity’s 3,200 units.

Strike action was tabled after a number of staff grievances against property services senior management were dismissed, the union said.

Unite said these claims had not been properly investigated and that a workplace representative was being unfairly subjected to disciplinary proceedings as a direct result of raising the initial grievance.

The 12 Unite members in the property services department will begin their walkout on 22 April, the union said.

Steve O’Donnell, regional officer at Unite, said: “Unite’s concerns at the bullying and anti-union culture among St Mungo’s management have only grown since we first brought them to the attention of the charity.

“At the moment, strike action is contained to one department. But unless there are significant efforts from St Mungo’s management to improve staff relations and halt the targeting of our reps, staff anger could grow to levels that caused mass walk-outs last year.”

The union said it was keen to work with the charity to resolve the dispute but only if its management stops allegedly targeting union reps.

The charity contends that an anonymous independent survey of its more than 1,500 staff in February found that 94 per cent of respondents said they had not experienced bullying or harassment by a manager.

In addition, it said it respected the rights of its staff to join and participate in a union of their choice.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “St Mungo’s wholeheartedly refutes these claims.

"We have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and take all allegations of such behaviour seriously. The internal inquiries into the allegations made remain ongoing and these will continue.

“We will work to minimise disruption to our services, and are implementing contingency plans now the date of industrial action has been announced.”

St Mungo’s staff also staged a walk-out in March last year, as part of a long-running dispute related to pay and working conditions.

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