10:28 AM, 6th December 2022, About 2 months ago 14
A bitter pay dispute has seen more than 600 workers at Shelter start two weeks of strike action.
A union rep has condemned the charity’s management as ‘heartless and hypocritical’.
Staff at the housing and homeless charity are fighting for a better pay deal than the 3% that Shelter has imposed.
Workers complain that their pay now leaves them at risk of being made homeless.
Unite the union says the pay deal means a real terms pay cut of 11% for workers since the true inflation rate (RPI) is 14.2%.
The union also highlights that the pay dispute is becoming increasingly bitter as the charity’s management has refused to enter into ‘meaningful negotiations’.
Instead, Shelter is imposing one-off payments and real terms pay cuts for the next 16 months.
Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “It is unforgivable that workers at Shelter find themselves actually being haunted by the prospect of being made homeless.
“Shelter has sufficient reserves to pay its hardworking and dedicated staff a decent par rise but it has chosen not to.
“Our members at Shelter will receive Unite’s complete and unyielding support in their fight for a better deal.”
The planned strike action will end on Friday 16th December and comes after peace talks collapsed at the conciliation service Acas last Thursday (1 December).
At the talks, management refused to increase the pay offer for 2022, instead proposing a pay increase of 4% for 2023/24 with no further pay increase for staff until April 2024.
Unite says this offer amounts to a further substantial pay cut of at least 10% for Shelter’s staff – and over two years this would be 21%.
The union fears that with inflation still rising, the real terms pay cut will go higher over the next 16 months when the next pay review is due in April 2024.
When Unite’s reps presented testimonies of their colleagues who are worried about being evicted or are unable to keep their house warm with a newborn baby and have mounting debt, management withdrew its offer.
The union says that Shelter is fully able to make a fair pay offer and points to the charity’s reserves last year that stood at £14.5 million – that’s a lot higher than its target reserves of £8.9 million.
Speaking about the decision to go on strike, one member of Shelter’s staff said: “At the very base level, absolute bare minimum, those working for a housing charity shouldn’t be experiencing housing insecurity as a result of being unable to pay rent.”
Another worker said: “I’m a single parent. I’m now in overdraft every month. I go around switching my lights off. I have turned my boiler down.
“I get stressed when the kids’ school wants me to pay for another school trip. The best acknowledgement my employer can give me for all my hard work is decent pay.”
Unite regional officer, Peter Storey, said: “Unite’s members at Shelter are entirely dedicated to their roles and are taking strike action as an absolute last resort.
“This dispute has been caused by the heartless, hypocritical attitude of Shelter’s management who have refused to enter into proper negotiations.
“Shelter needs to take an urgent reality check and return to the negotiating table with an offer that meets our members’ expectations.”
Shelter’s offices affected by the strike action include its head office in Old Street, London, and offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Blackburn, Norwich, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Newcastle and Sheffield.
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