Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Strikes causes service fears

November 04 2014
Service users at St Mungo's Broadway worry that a suspended course could set a pattern

Staff at St Mungo's Broadway (SMB) homeless charity went on a seven-day strike last month after a new management team imposed cuts to pay and conditions. The changes include a £5,000 pay cut for new employees, reduced pay grades for some existing roles and union representation being sidelined.

Staff at the leading homeless charity were said to be furious at the move and fear the heart will be ripped out of the highly regarded organisation, turning it into another “race to the bottom” business.

The charity is a merger between St Mungo’s, one of London’s largest homeless charities, and the smaller Broadway, who joined forces earlier this year.

Meanwhile, residents and clients have expressed concern at the impact demoralised and underpaid staff could have on services.

Nicky Marcus, Unite the Union’s regional officer, said: “These workers don’t take strike action easily. They care passionately for their clients. Some of them are ex-clients themselves, but they know what happens if you end up with cheap labour and a high staff turnover.”

A resident at a SMB hostel in Hackney, who reported security guards had been drafted in to replace staff, said: “The concern is if they cut pay and conditions, we’ll end up with people who don’t care about homeless people.”

In a statement, Howard Sinclair, chief exec of SMB, said, “Our priority remains providing services of the highest quality for the increasing numbers of clients we are seeing, within the ever tighter economic environment. We are working hard to ensure that all our services for homeless people continue to run as normal for the duration of the strike.”

At least one course for service users has been suspended, and homeless people who use SMB fear that they will not be offered the same services in the future.