Staff at charitable housing organisation balloted for strike action

Look Ahead Care and Support employees at four sites in Hackney, east London, are consulted by the trade union Unite (campaigns officer Adam Lambert, pictured) over proposals to make efficiency savings

Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert

Staff at a London-based charitable housing organisation that provides support services for vulnerable people have held a ballot over strike action if proposals to make 14 per cent efficiency savings go ahead.

All but one of the 41 staff employed at four sites in Hackney by Look Ahead Care and Support have been balloted by the union Unite.

The union said that staff in Hackney were subject to pay cuts of 15 per cent two years ago.   

The housing organisation, which overall employs more than 1,000 staff, said it had been asked to make efficiency savings worth £309,760, or 14 per cent of the contract’s value, on a joint contract issued by East London NHS Foundation Trust and Hackney Council that runs until March 2016.

A document sent to staff said that failure to make savings would result in the contract being put out to tender.

Staff at another site, in Westminster, are also being balloted about strike action because of proposed cuts.

Adam Lambert, campaigns officer for Unite’s housing workers branch, which is supporting the care staff, said: "Look Ahead is notorious for undercutting other housing and support providers and trying to restructure after transfers.

"It already made a 15 per cent pay cut two years ago and is now proposing 14 per cent cuts to terms and conditions, and people’s jobs are being replaced by lower-grade posts. Support workers are being made into assistant support workers; and one manager and one deputy across all four sites in Hackney will replace the manager at each site. No one feels that their job is secure any more."

Chris Hampson, deputy chief executive of Look Ahead, said: "Look Ahead is in consultation with staff at four projects in Hackney affected by contract funding. Our staff and their representatives at Unite have put forward a number of proposals to mitigate the impact of these cuts and we are currently considering these. This consultation has not yet concluded and therefore it is not possible to comment any further at this stage."

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