Union-busting at St Mungo’s

mungoThe hard nosed management style prevailing at the RSPCA is met with elsewhere in the charity world. Efforts by project workers employed by the homeless charity St Mungo’s to protect their jobs and ensure the maintenance of a high quality of service have been dogged by a management similarly bent on trying to run charity on the cheap.

Project workers at St Mungo’s are battling to maintain the quality of the service they are able to provide, whilst the management is doing its best to saddle less-experienced (and worse paid) junior staff with more and more of the workload, thereby diluting the overall skills base.

Management’s failure to abide by agreements designed to preserve the existing ratio of project workers to less experienced junior staff is driving the charity into a race to the bottom. Under the junior staff cap agreement, junior level positions would never exceed a ratio of one junior worker for every four project workers, and no project worker would ever be demoted to a junior worker through restructuring. As well as defending the job security of project workers, this agreement should also protect junior workers from exposure to responsibilities for which their level of experience has not prepared them.

Management’s refusal to stick by the agreement will, if not reversed, lead to a deteriorating service, insecure employment and ultimately loss of public confidence in the ability of the charity to offer professional assistance to those struggling with homelessness.

But rather than negotiate these serious issues, the charity’s CEO Howard Sinclair waltzed off to an expensive London PR agency to spearhead a union-busting campaign. In a leaked email, Sinclair expressed the hope that this public relations war would be able to “stop more people joining” the union and “erode support” for it.

In reality the only thing this backfiring stunt will be ‘eroding’ is the public’s confidence in a CEO who deems it fit to splash out its generous donations on a union-busting spree. Over 500 workers were balloted for strike action, and St Mungo’s has now received notice that Unite members intend to strike for three days from Monday 16 to Wednesday 18 March.

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