Sheffield Trade Union Council supports SHELTER UNITE members on strike this coming week over appalling pay cuts. Sheffield SHELTER UNITE members are based at Furnival House on Furnival Gate in the city centre. It would be great to see Sheffield trade unionists showing their support on the picket lines. I am delighted to inform you that Louise Hague Labour PPC for Sheffield Heeley and Harry Harpham Labour PPC for Sheffield Brightside are both coming to the picket lines on Wednesday (Louise and Harry are both UNITE members).
Please see below UNITE press release and then below that the text of the UNITE Shelter Newsletter explaining the dispute in more detail (a pdf file is attached if you wish to download it).
National industrial action will take place at all Shelter sites on the 16th, 17th & 18th December. The Sheffield picket times are to be 0800 to 10.00; 11.00 to 13.00; and 14.00 to 16.00 outside Furnival House, Sheffield. Unite placards and flags are being provided for these events and Joe Rollin is supporting along with the Unite community members
Unite Press Release
For immediate use: Wednesday 10 December 2014
Three day strike over pay cuts to hit national housing charity
The housing charity Shelter is set to be hit by a three day strike next week as Britain’s largest union, Unite announced that 400 of its members would be walking out from Tuesday 16 December over pay cuts of up to £5,000 for frontline staff.
Amid warnings that ‘cut rate pay’ will lead to a ‘cut rate organisation’, the advice and support workers are angry over the imposition of a new pay scale at the charity leading to pay cuts of up to £5,000 for new starters, with the pay of current frontline staff only being guaranteed until 2016.
The action, hitting the charity’s advice and support work, was backed by two thirds (69.2 per cent) of those taking part in a recent strike ballot and follows a continued refusal by Shelter management to negotiate meaningfully.
In addition to pay cuts for new frontline staff, the proposed pay changes have left the charity open to accusations of creating a two tier workforce. The new pay scale only affects frontline staff and will see some advice workers earning several thousands of pounds less than non-frontline colleagues working on the same grade elsewhere in the charity.
Shelter’s main offices in London, Glasgow and Sheffield as well as smaller ones in cities such as Manchester and Bristol will be affected by the three day strike, which starts at 00:01 hours Tuesday 16 December and concludes at 23:59 hours on Thursday 18 December.
Unite regional officer Peter Storey said: “Our members care deeply about the help they give and the people they support. They are fearful that ‘cut rate pay’ will lead to a ‘cut rate organisation’ as managers struggle to recruit experienced replacements on the new lower rates of pay.
“Shelter’s frontline support and advice workers are the lifeblood of the charity and deserve better than pay cuts while those with huge salaries at the top see their pay protected.
“Cutting pay for some of our lowest paid staff is simply not necessary. Shelter is in a healthy financial position and management need to get back around the table to negotiate a fair settlement.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Notes to editors
· Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. It has built its reputation as the foremost housing charity in the country on the quality of the service we offer and our expertise. Everyone working for Shelter cares passionately about these issues and is totally committed to the work we do.Members have struggled over the issue of strike action, but have voted to strike as we believe that our hard-won reputation is under threat from cuts imposed by management:
− Pay for new frontline staff (who work directly with clients giving advice and support) has already been cut by up to 20%: from an average of £24,000 to around £19,000
− Existing frontline staff have been told that their pay is only guaranteed until 2016, and that after this,proposals to reduce pay for current workers will be considered.
We are totally opposed to these changes because:
− They are unnecessary: Shelter is in a healthy financial position. Last years’ annual report refers to a positive‘net movement in funds’ of £1m between 2012/13 and 2013/14
− They risk a reduction in quality of advice to clients: Cuts will mean that Shelter can no longer recruit the same calibre of staff. Managers in some areas are already noting difficulties in recruiting staff at the lower pay rates. Some committed and experienced staff have already left the organisation concerned at the prospect of pay cuts in 18 months time
− They undervalue advice and support work: Shelter now has two pay scales, meaning that staff working with vulnerable clients will receive considerably less pay than staff on the same grades who do not work on the frontline.
− They will result in hardship for staff: These changes will result in many staff struggling to pay their own rent or mortgage. Using Shelter’s own figures, advice staff have so far been able to afford to rent 55% of the housing across the country. On the new pay scales, only 23% of rented accommodation would be affordable
− They are inequitable: The lowest grade staff are the worst affected, with no impact on the highest paid staff Cut-rate pay will lead to a cut-rate organisation. We are not prepared to stand by and allow this to happen. We will do whatever we must to ensure we are able to continue to run exemplary services and campaigns.
Unite Workplace Reps, Shelter
Why are Unite members at Shelter taking strike action?
What can you do to help?
We believe that Shelter, as a progressive organisation;
• should not be cutting the pay of its workforce
• should not be joining a race to the bottom in wages
• should campaign for quality contracts that allow for a decent wage to all staff
If you agree, then you can help by:
1. Writing to Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, Shelter, 88 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HU, or email
him at Campbell_robb@shelter.org.uk
2. Leaving a message on our Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/uniteatshelter
3. Donate to the Shelter Hardship Fund by sending a cheque payable to TGWU (ACTSS) 1/0524
Central London Branch to:
Mary O’Brien, Branch Secretary,174 Parkside Avenue Romford Essex RM1 4NP. Or pay directly to:
Sort Code 08 60 01 Account No 30010808. Please mark all payments Shelter Hardship Fund.
Open this link for a PDF of the news letter
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