Twelve St Mungo’s maintenance workers will begin indefinite strike action later this month, with their union saying they have faced “appalling treatment” from senior management.
The housing charity has been accused of having a “bullying and anti-union culture” by Unite, a trade union with 500 members at the charity.
St Mungo’s employs 1,400 staff. There are 16 people in its property maintenance team, 12 of whom are in the union. Eight of those in the union voted in favour of strike action and four abstained.
Unite said the strike had been called because grievances against senior managers in the property services department were dismissed.
Steve O’Donnell, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite’s concerns at the bullying and anti-union culture amongst St Mungo’s management have only grown since we first brought them to the attention of the charity.
“We believe our reps are being targeted with formal procedures to prevent them from being able to stand up for staff, who are also suffering from management’s hostile approach.
“A prime case in point is within the property services department, where staff have had no choice but to launch indefinite strike action because of appalling treatment by management.”
Last year staff took part in a three-day strike over a number of issues including changes to sickness policy. This March Unite accused the charity’s leaders of targeting union representatives, with nearly half its reps involved in formal processes about their own employment.
The union has not ruled out the possibility of wider action.
O’Donnell added: “At the moment, strike action is contained to one department. But unless there are significant efforts from St Mungo’s management to improve staff relations and halt the targeting of our reps, staff anger could grow to levels that caused mass walk-outs last year.
“Unite is keen to work with St Mungo’s to resolve this dispute, but that can only be done if management acts on staff concerns and stop targeting union reps.”
‘Zero tolerance approach’
This February 90% of St Mungo’s staff who completed an independent anonymous survey said they have not experienced bullying or harassment in a work context.
A spokesperson said: “St Mungo’s wholeheartedly refutes these claims and has worked hard to try to avoid potential industrial action which was voted for by eight people.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and take all allegations of such behaviour seriously, and have strong policies and procedures to investigate them. The internal enquiries into the allegations made remain ongoing and these will continue.
“We will work to minimise disruption to our services, and are implementing contingency plans now the date of industrial action has been announced. Our focus – as always – is the safety and welfare of our clients, and our staff.”