St Mungo’s workers made a lot of noise outside the notorious charity’s HQ – and rightly so

Unite St Mungo's protest rally at charity's HQ
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The increasingly notorious homelessness charity St Mungo’s saw striking workers take the fight for fair pay right to its front door on Thursday 10 August. Trade union Unite had organised a rally – and staff made their feelings over bosses’ treatment of them very clear.

St Mungo’s: a charity doing capitalism

St Mungo’s bosses have been locked in an ongoing industrial dispute with workers. Little wonder, really, when you realise just what staff have been putting up with. As the Canary previously reported, Unite housing Workers said that:

Staff have been doing very badly – the average amount the charity spends on each employee fell in cash terms by 2% in 2022, and by more than 10% after allowing for inflation.

Leigh Fontaine is a manager at St Mungo’s, who’s also gone out on strike with workers. He told the BBC:

Never in my four years as a manager have I sat in a supervision with a staff member who is in tears over whether they can afford to eat next week.

But guess what? The CEO’s pay went up by 5% last year – to £189,000. That’s almost five times more than the average worker earns. Moreover, as the Canary recently reported, a ban on bosses using employment agencies to send scab staff in to cover for striking workers came into force on 10 August. As we also reported, St Mungo’s had previously been doing this. Unite said in a press release:

Up to now, St Mungo’s has been using a number of agencies to try to break the strike. Now management is tying itself in knots, wasting money in a desperate attempt to transfer agency workers on to short term contracts.

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Yes, you read that right. As Novara Media reported, bosses at St Mungo’s are giving agency staff short-term contracts instead, to get around the new law. Unite said:

The charity’s actions are creating an expensive and administrative nightmare. Meanwhile Unite has recruited 350 new members since the start of the dispute. Workers are not believing the misinformation being peddled by the employer.

So, Unite members who work at St Mungo’s have been on indefinite strike since 27 June – after walking out for the four weeks prior to that. On Thursday 10 August, they took their campaign to the front door of the charity’s head office – holding a mass rally there.

A bunch of rats

Dozens of workers and supporters turned out:

A rat was present; the Canary is unsure if this is a visual representation of the St Mungo’s CEO or not:

Workers certainly made their presence known (and heard):

They also sent support to striking comrades at Amazon:

Stop strike-breaking and give workers fair pay

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said in a press release:

Companies and organisations had already begun to use agency workers as a way to break legal strikes. Pitting worker against worker in an attempt to union bust. As of 10 August, this will no longer be an avenue hostile employers can use.

St Mungo’s now needs to focus on solving this long running dispute. They need to stop looking for ways to break the strike and start looking for ways to solve it.

According to the BBC, St Mungo’s bosses have made a new offer to Unite – which they’ll be negotiating “over the coming days”. Given that the bosses’ last offer was 3.7%, and the offer before that 2.25%, it’s unlikely they’ll offer workers anything near a decent pay rise. So, get set for the strike to continue for the foreseeable future.

Featured image via Unite the Union

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