One of the St Mungo's strike rallies. Photo: Unite
One of the St Mungo's strike rallies. Photo: Unite

There has been an electric mood on picket lines and at rallies across London, and in Oxford, Bristol and more sites around the country, organised by the Unite Housing Workers branch. Homelessness workers, many young first-time strikers, are picketing and protesting at near-daily rallies and marches in the fight for a decent pay rise from ‘the UK’s leading homelessness charity’ St Mungo’s.

As speakers at the daily rallies have explained, senior managers have seen their pay skyrocket whilst frontline staff have seen their pay fall off the end of a cliff.

In a short space of time, strikers are discussing and learning lessons. The rallies around London keep up the pressure and the profile, win wider support, and keep up morale. Many strikers are also discussing and understanding the importance of maintaining effective workplace pickets to build the strength of the strike amongst members, and win more to the union, to hit the bosses where it hurts. The fifth day of strike action had 30% more picketers than at the start.

Strikers spoke to Isai Marijerla


“I am striking because I don’t feel able to stand and do nothing, when there are people working in a charitable organisation with not enough income to support themselves without welfare, and using food banks to get by. We are told that there isn’t enough money to fund an adequate pay rise, but we are also told we cannot see the evidence for this. It’s very difficult to accept the information when there is nothing to verify it. 

“Among many strikers there is a general feeling that we are losing the essence of what the charity was created for. It has become increasingly corporatised. This should not be at the cost of providing sustainable incomes for people to be able to carry out their roles without the additional pressures of financial hardship. 

“We hope that the senior leadership team will be willing to return to the negotiating table. We are told that there is always the invitation for dialogue, but we are also told that there will be no amendments to the previous inadequate pay offer. We very much hope this changes. We are extending invitations for progressive conversation. We hope these are accepted and that we can return to our roles as soon as possible.” 


“I’ve been doing this job for nine months. And I’m striking now in support of the pay dispute and the demand for 10% pay rise in line with inflation, because I’m in solidarity with all the frontline workers in my organisation who are not being paid enough to live.  

“It shouldn’t be this way. Everyone in society doing a job should be paid enough to live comfortably. I think it’s really disgusting that there’s such inequality of wealth – in our society, but also within St Mungo’s, that ostensibly exists to support people who are suffering. And the people that we support are suffering because of poverty and wealth inequality. In this organisation, there’s a CEO that’s earning around £200,000 a year, and frontline workers on very minimal wages. It feels like rather than addressing the issues it’s set up to address, Mungo’s is actually entrenching those problems.  

“So for me it’s really important to utilise the power that we have as workers and withhold our labour until some of this inequality is redressed and frontline staff have their wages increased. People don’t donate to charities like St Mungo’s because they want to line the pockets of a few people. They donate because they see homelessness as a problem. So that’s why I’m joining the strike and I’m on the picket line.”

Another striker spoke to Ben Goldstone:

”I’m in a management position after five years with Mungo’s and my salary is liveable. What made me decide to strike is knowing that members of my team struggle towards the end of a pay period. Many of them support the strike but are worried about being able to afford it – which is exactly why it needs to be done!” 

Other strikers spoke to a Unite organiser, to publicise their strike:

“We’ve had an amazing turnout here today [at the first London rally], an amazing atmosphere, everyone’s going strong. Really confident about the campaign, we’re going to win! It’s great to hear Jeremy Corbyn speaking here, and we just need to keep our momentum going.”

Eivinas, project worker at Endsleigh Gardens and Unite rep

“Great atmosphere at our first rally at the beginning of our strike, we had a number of great speakers. We’ve got to keep the momentum going and we’re going to get this pay rise.”

Harvey, project worker at Birkenhead Street

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