St Mungo’s staff strike: Final day of picketing cancelled amid Covid-19

Staff at St.Mungo’s, who are striking against pay conditions, have been forced to abandon their final day of picketing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Unite the union, which represents hundreds of members at the charity, called off the final day of rallies planned for today, insisting members should ‘keep safe and strike from home’.

The decision came in line with the government's Covid-19 advice, which encourages people to practice social distancing and work from home where possible in a bid to stop the virus from spreading.

Protests were forced to stop in London, Brighton and Bristol after two days of action.

Last month, staff at the charity voted by 83.7% to strike over sickness policy and disciplinary procedures. A total of 289 of Unite's 500 members turned up to vote and 241 voted to strike. There are 1,690 staff working for the charity.

The dispute is based on breaches of the 'junior staffing cap' – an agreement between the charity and the union – which Unite claims enforces a "reinstatement of race to the bottom terms and conditions". It is also based on a number of other issues, including the charity’s 'disproportionate and unfair use of disciplinary procedures and onerous sickness policy'.

Unite accused the charity of "pulling the rug out from under workers, when it tore up the junior staffing cap agreement, in a bid to bring in a cheaper workforce in May 2019".

However, the charity's CEO, Howard Sinclair argued a strike was "completely unnecessary" and he was "disappointed” that talks with Unite officials broke down.

“St Mungo’s went to ACAS wanting to resolve this dispute with Unite, but our attempts were shut down," he said.

Unite is now urging Sinclair and the charity’s trustee board to take “all steps to protect the health and safety of staff during the coronavirus crisis”.

“Mr Sinclair and the board must stop the hostilities and start working with the union to rebuild trust. Our members will be working on the frontline helping very vulnerable people during this crisis, it’s time they were give the respect they deserve,” Unite regional officer, Tabusam Ahmed said.

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