The Socialist

The Socialist 22 October 2014

Priced out? Strike Back!

The Socialist issue 830

Priced out? Strike back!

100,000 march against cuts and for a wage rise

The unions' pay battle must continue


50 years of socialist ideas and workers' struggle

Where's our recovery?

Socialist change to halt climate change

A Freudian slip?

Undercover cops report - a whitewash

Them & Us


Ebola outbreak: one face of austerity

International day of action for abortion rights in Ireland


PCS members again show anti-austerity determination

"No Raise - No Rays!" - say radiographers

POA hospital workers join public sector strike wave

St Mungo's Broadway strikers stage 19 pickets

Care UK strikers lobby Miliband for public support

Sheffield green workers' unofficial walkout

WEA tutors' victory


Leicester council hits homeless hostel

Reckless Ukip circus

Anti-eviction success!

Save Bitterne walk-in centre!

Socialist Party "part of political landscape"


Local services suffer under Welsh Labour

Hedge fund owners will never blush

Private companies hold NHS to ransom

 
 
 
 
 

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St Mungo's Broadway picket, Hammersmith, 17.10.14, photo Helen Pattison

St Mungo's Broadway picket, Hammersmith, 17.10.14, photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

St Mungo's Broadway strikers stage 19 pickets

Over 200 striking homelessness workers gathered outside the head office of St Mungos Broadway on Friday 17 October, which was the first day of a seven-day strike. The strike follows imposed changes by a new management team at the charity. Spirits were high and there was a mood of determination as strikers chanted "the workers united will never be defeated". Earlier that morning workers had staged 19 workplace pickets.

St Mungo's Broadway picket, Hammersmith, 17.10.14, photo by Helen Pattison

St Mungo's Broadway picket, Hammersmith, 17.10.14, photo by Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Speaking at the rally, Unite convenor Adam Lambert reported that, in last minute talks at Acas, management had conceded it was wrong to impose changes but did not offer to do anything about it; Unite negotiators were given nothing to take back to members and no willingness by management to compromise was evident.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary, pledged the union's absolute support for the strike including financial assistance. He underlined that there was no contradiction between workers getting decent conditions and a top class service for homeless people: quite the opposite. He told strikers that their role was to mitigate one of the worst crimes of capitalism; homelessness.

Speakers included NSSN chair Rob Williams, Unite national officer Sally Kosky, Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus and St Mungos reps.

Wide support

A visiting sandwich seller, not wanting to cross a picket line, stuck a Unite flag in his trolley before making his rounds of the office; a reminder of the strike to anyone working in the block.

Pickets have been boosted by overwhelming support from passers by. St Mungos volunteers refused to cross picket lines, understanding that decent services to the homeless are threatened by the new chief executive Howard Sinclair.

Some St Mungos donors approached pickets to express their shock at the actions of the new management team.

A St Mungo's Broadway picket, Bartholomew Close, London, 20.10.14, photo by Judy Beishon

A St Mungo's Broadway picket, Bartholomew Close, London, 20.10.14, photo by Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Later in the day strikers decided to pay an impromptu visit to the nearby offices of Shepherds Bush Housing Association where St Mungos Broadway board chair, Paul Doe, is chief executive. Setting off behind the NSSN banner 150 strikers held a noisy protest.

On the first strike day, management made no attempt to follow up its admission that it had acted wrongly, with any specific proposals. Instead it emailed a series of legal threats to Unite representatives.

On the second day, chief executive Howard Sinclair visited a picket in Hackney and told strikers he would not give in to their demands if they struck for 20 days. In an earlier magazine interview he explained that he took a wolf mask to union negotiations - it seems this sums up his approach to relations with his staff!

Strikers marched at the head of the 18 October TUC 'Britain deserves a pay rise' demonstration behind the Unite Housing Workers banner. They gave out thousands of leaflets and collected money for the strike. Jeremy Corbyn MP and others pledged to help.

St Mungo's Broadway picket, Bartholomew Close, London, 17.10.14, photo by Judy Beishon

St Mungo's Broadway picket, Bartholomew Close, London, 17.10.14, photo by Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

They also met Care UK strikers from Doncaster. Owned by Bridgepoint capital, Care UK has been driving down wages of care workers and competing for NHS contracts by cutting pay and conditions.

Howard Sinclair's £5,000 pay cuts for new starters and his talk of working with private contractors such as Serco point to a comparable commercialised future for St Mungos Broadway.

Along with a massive pay-off for the previous chief executive and a new dictatorial management culture, these moves anger staff. They point out that they are particularly ill-conceived for an organisation which hopes for donations based on the goodwill of members of the public.

Unite reps have found the task of reviewing hardship claims from strikers a harrowing experience as they bring home the desperate conditions faced by many workers, even before the strike. Striking is not easy for workers with housing costs and family commitments but they are determined to save an organisation they are deeply committed to, and they have no intention of being walked over.

Please donate to the campaign as follows:
  • By BACS. Account Name: Unite Housing Workers Branch LE1111, Account No: 20040639, Sort Code: 08-60-01.
  • By cheque made out to the Unite Housing Workers Branch LE1111, Unite LE1111, and sent to PO Box 66701, London E11 9FB.

Please mark all donations 'St Mungos Broadway Campaign Funds'.

Paul Kershaw

Previous article:

600 St Mungo's housing workers to strike for a week


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 20 October 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.


In this issue


Britain needs a pay rise

Priced out? Strike back!

100,000 march against cuts and for a wage rise

The unions' pay battle must continue


Socialist Party news and analysis

50 years of socialist ideas and workers' struggle

Where's our recovery?

Socialist change to halt climate change

A Freudian slip?

Undercover cops report - a whitewash

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Ebola outbreak: one face of austerity

International day of action for abortion rights in Ireland


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS members again show anti-austerity determination

"No Raise - No Rays!" - say radiographers

POA hospital workers join public sector strike wave

St Mungo's Broadway strikers stage 19 pickets

Care UK strikers lobby Miliband for public support

Sheffield green workers' unofficial walkout

WEA tutors' victory


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester council hits homeless hostel

Reckless Ukip circus

Anti-eviction success!

Save Bitterne walk-in centre!

Socialist Party "part of political landscape"


Readers' comments

Local services suffer under Welsh Labour

Hedge fund owners will never blush

Private companies hold NHS to ransom


 

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