St Mungo's Broadway staff stand up against pay cuts
VETERAN workers at homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway defied the face-to-face taunts of their anti-union boss yesterday to mount pickets at hostels in a sixth strike day against a £5,000 pay cut.
At noon dozens of red Unite union flags encircled the doors of east London’s Hackney Town Hall — which once famously flew the red socialist banner from its flagpole — as strikers from across the capital joined forces to press council commissioners to take up their case.
A great cheer and the deafening sound of horns greeted news that officials had agreed to meet the Unite union before holding crisis talks with the charity’s bosses.
Loyal employees’ anger has reached breaking point during the week-long stoppage as St Mungo’s Broadway chief executive Howard Sinclair motorcycled past daily picket lines to lecture strikers on how their efforts were futile.
Challenged by one worker on why new managers were getting thousands but new front-line staff faced £5,000 cuts, the boss replied: “You have to pay for quality.”
Staff with more than a decade’s experience told the Morning Star of their pride in working for a “unique” organisation that didn’t just house the homeless.
It also offers a range of education and therapy services designed to get them back on their feet part funded by charitable donations.
They said that a cuts drive by new management, installed following what Unite regional official Nicky Marcus described as a “coup d’etat” after St Mungo’s takeover of failed cost-cutters Broadway, had pushed them to strike action.
The majority of senior staff at the new organisation are now drawn from Broadway — and workers fear they have brought their flawed cost-cutting plans to their surplus-generating parent.
One worker with 13 years at St Mungo’s confessed he had never expected to be on strike.
Another, who had been there 16 years, said: “It’s a highly successful service based on quality — that’s why we’re here.
“Why should the next person after me be paid less? Twenty-thousand a year — you’ll have kids doing the job.”
So far bosses have sidelined the strikers.
But trade union official Ms Marcus said members would take further action if they were ignored.
“They are not going to allow quality services to the homeless to be eroded by a blinkered management,” she said.