Sanctuary Housing – “My union mates have come to support me”

Protesting in support of Sanctuary Housing worker Chris, a victimised union member - photo Unite housing
Protesting in support of Sanctuary Housing worker Chris, a victimised union member - photo Unite housing

Nick Auvache, Unite housing workers

Unite the Union protested in support of one of our members, Chris, outside his disciplinary hearing.

Workers at Sanctuary Housing are no strangers to management’s heavy-handed treatment. The relentless pace of work and bullying attitude of managers often get angry responses from workers.

Our loud and colourful protest made it very clear to management that poor treatment of workers must stop now. If not, there will be consequences.

The new union rep at Sanctuary said: “Workers working on voids are fed up being told we can only do bodge jobs on properties so they can move in elderly tenants and young families to add to their already vast profits. I don’t like my skills being abused.

“Sanctuary increased their profits last year from £42.4 million to £46.7 million. It’s being invested in more properties to make more profits for the shareholders. How about they invest in their staff and the tenants?

“This is not a charity anymore. It’s a money-making machine and the tenants and workers bear the brunt.

“Today we not only supported our fellow member Chris, but we stood up for all workers who have been bullied, disrespected, undervalued and underpaid. We are pleased to receive support from our tenants, showing how much we have in common.”

Chris said: “When I went into the hearing, one of the managers said: ‘There’s a bit of commotion out there’. I proudly said: ‘Yes, that’s my union mates come to support me’, with a great big smile.”

Someone from HR emerged from their office to ask what we were demonstrating about. One worker told her straight: “We are here because you are bullies”.

Unite wrote to Sanctuary explaining why we wanted to meet with them, but Sanctuary completely ignored our letter. No wonder then that workers prefer to take a more direct route.

This will give workers more confidence and show them that whether it is bullying management, intensification of work pressure, longer working hours or declining pay, we need a strong trade union at Sanctuary to hold the bosses to account.