Unite calls for St Mungo’s CEO to step down following 'email blunder'

03 Jan 2020 News

Unite has called on St Mungo’s chief executive, Howard Sinclair, to step down immediately, after he inadvertently sent an email to a union official.

Sinclair is due to stand down in the autumn of 2020.

The email states that there is “no need to change tac (sic)”. It adds:  “Our strategy should be to…stop more people joining and erode support”.

The union has accused Sinclair of discouraging staff from joining the union and anti trade union tactics. The charity said staff are actively encouraged to join the union of their choice. 

Recently St Mungo’s has faced a number of controversies, including issues surrounding the charity’s outreach teams sharing information with the Home Office. Delay by the executive team at St Mungo’s meant that one of the charity's outreach teams failed to cease sharing data with the Home Office without consent, an internal review by the charity revealed. 

Re-balloting union members

The charity also narrowly avoided strike action over staff working conditions, because one too few staff took part in a vote, so the resulting ballot did not have legal validity. 

Unite is set to re-ballot the union’s members for strike action, after failing to reach the 50 per cent threshold required by law.

The ballot opens on Monday 6 January and closes on Monday 3 February.

'This email blunder has exposed Sinclair’s true colours'

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “This email blunder has exposed Sinclair’s true colours. He must now do the decent thing and step down immediately to clear the way for negotiations to re-start with a clean slate.

“It is deeply regrettable that Unite has had to re-ballot members. But senior management’s continued refusal to row back on plans to tear up the junior staffing cap agreement, unfair sickness policy and heavy-handed use of disciplinary procedures remain a major sticking point for our members.

“Members fear that the move to tear up the union-negotiated junior staffing cap agreement is the thin end of the wedge and will lead to job losses, pay cuts and a deterioration in the quality of services delivered to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

“Unite’s door remains open, but we would urge Howard Sinclair to step aside at once so that negotiations can re-start and trust rebuilt.”

St Mungo’s: 'We actively encourage our staff to join the union of their choice'

A St Mungo’s spokesperson said: “After an unsuccessful attempt in the summer, Unite officials have decided to re-ballot on the same issues in January, for a winter strike. St Mungo’s is not reducing pay, nor making any changes to staff terms and conditions and we have made it clear to Unite officials that we are waiting to talk about the proposals we made in the summer and there is absolutely no need for them to push their members to strike.

“St Mungo’s formally recognises both Unison and Unite and we actively encourage our staff to join the union of their choice and participate as they choose. St Mungo’s was recently awarded Investors in People (IiP) Gold status. As is normal for a charity our size, we work with a variety of external partners including on legal and media issues.”

The charity said Sinclair still plans to step down in autumn 2020, not immediately.

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