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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charity workers announce plans for indefinite strikes

This news post is 12 months old

Protests are planned against St Mungo’s trustees.

Workers at the homeless charity St Mungo’s will extend their month-long strike indefinitely thanks to management’s “do nothing” approach to negotiations.

The decision has been provoked by the on-going disagreement between workers and the charity’s management, who union representatives say callously refuse to acknowledge the struggle front line workers face to pay the bills. 

After tax and deductions frontline workers take home less than £20,000 a year. Many of the workers are now in fear themselves after being unable to pay their rent or mortgage on their current poverty wages.

The “indifference” of the management and trustees to their own staff smacks of the corporatisation of the charity sector, the union said.

The month-long strike ends on 26 June and the indefinite strike begins on 27 June. 

Unite balloted over 500 workers across southern England including in London, Bristol, Brighton, Oxford, Bournemouth and Reading.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “St Mungo’s workers are taking indefinite strike action because management and the trustees are displaying astonishing callousness.  

“This attitude is corporate Britain meets the charity sector. The workers know St Mungo’s can afford to improve front line workers’ pay. That’s why the blame for this indefinite strike lies with St Mungo’s management and Board.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that the workers have Unite’s ongoing support.

The charity has failed to improve its 2.25% offer despite St Mungo’s having £16million in cash and substantial reserves.

The homeless charity still hasn’t resolved a pay dispute going back to 2021 in the midst of falling pay and a cost of living crisis. 

Activists have also begun staging protests outside the workplaces of trustees, claiming they cannot wash their hands of responsibility

Unite regional officer, Steve O’Donnell, said: “The workers at St Mungo’s are sending a powerful message to management and trustees. They haven’t taken this decision likely - they have been driven to this.

“The charity’s CEO Emma Haddad’s misleading claims about St Mungo’s pay offer is only making the situation worse.

“There’s no doubt that St Mungo’s is disgracefully failing the homeless by its ‘do nothing’ approach to negotiations. Let’s hope management will now listen.”  

St Mungo’s said Unite’s position, which was originally based on a 10% backdated pay increase, would make it financially unviable.

Emma Haddad, chief executive of St Mungo’s, told the Bristol Cable: “It was unexpected to hear that Unite has extended its period of strike action indefinitely. We are in the middle of discussions aimed at finding a solution and had a constructive meeting with Unite representatives on 12 June.

“Bringing an end to this unprecedented period of industrial action remains our key priority, so we can all focus on working together to support people at risk of, or recovering from, homelessness.”