Property maintenance staff at the homelessness charity St Mungo’s have ended their strike action after almost three months.
The union Unite said members in the charity’s maintenance team had voted to return to work after it was agreed that an independent review would take place into the charity’s handling of bullying claims raised by staff.
The union said it requested a review in February and the charity had only now agreed to a “full and proper” independent review.
The charity maintains it announced at the start of the dispute that it would commission an independent review, which the union was invited to take part in, but it had only now agreed to do so.
The walkout, which began on 22 April, 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, previously 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 refuted all the claims and said it had 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.
The department is responsible for the day-to-day repairs to the charity’s 3,200 housing 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.
Strike action ceased yesterday but Unite said a “culture of fear” remained that staff could be disciplined or suspended for speaking out about inappropriate behaviour.
Steve O’Donnell, Unite regional officer, said: “Only after the impact of strike and pressure from some commissioners have they now agreed to a full and proper independent review.
“When people are frightened to speak up, the risk of safeguarding issues increases. This is of particular concern in hostels where vulnerable people are housed.
“Unite calls on St Mungo’s to recognise this risk and engage in good faith with the union to rectify it.”
A spokesperson for St Mungo’s said: “We welcome the news that our colleagues have decided to come back to work, helping to ensure the safety and welfare of our clients.
“At the beginning of the dispute we confirmed that, given the complexity of the cases, we would commission an independent review of the handling of the procedures and we are pleased that Unite has now agreed to engage with this review.”
The charity said that 90 per cent of staff who took part in an independent survey said they had not experienced bullying or harassment.