St Mungo's strike in Hackney. Photo: London Socialist Party
St Mungo's strike in Hackney. Photo: London Socialist Party

Workers vote on offer

Helen Pattison, London Socialist Party secretary

St Mungo’s workers entered their thirteenth week of indefinite strike action, and are balloting on a slightly improved offer. Alongside that, they are making preparations to reballot the membership, as their strike mandate ballot is reaching the six-month cut-off set by Tory anti-union legislation.

The new offer means workers’ strike action has so far won a £1,200 consolidated pay rise out of this rotten management. Between the pay increase gained by the strike and the national local government NJC award now being negotiated, it’s estimated that St Mungo’s has been forced to cough up over £6.2 million in extra wages. The offer includes a freeze on senior management pay, an issue that was very important to many strikers.

This has been a long struggle for many workers who are taking action for the first time. It is a testament to their drive to get organised that so much has taken place. From strike rallies and lobbies, to pickets at newly organised St Mungo’s workplaces.

If workers now decide to accept the offer, which is lower than the 10% they first demanded, they will be able to do so with their heads held high. They have shown the strength of collective action.  

That said, neither the issue of pay, nor any of the other issues that workers have been discussing on the picket lines, can possibly be concluded by just this strike.

Hostile environment

Issues include pay disparity, with a senior leadership increasingly being paid six-figure salaries while frontline staff, with a whole number of important skills working with clients, are paid the lowest wages in the organisation; and the charity’s relationship with the Tory government over its hostile environment policies.

Whatever happens with this specific ballot, it is clear that there is a force in St Mungo’s with the strength to take on CEO Emma Haddad and her intransigent management team.

The staff, unionised in Unite, have forced millions of pounds out of the bulging bank account of St Mungo’s, and will continue to fight for the organisation to respect its staff and the important role they play supporting homeless people.