Shelter dispute

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Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 01:05
Shelter dispute

Senior management are attempting to implement
the most serious attack on staff pay and conditions
in Shelter’s 41 year history. If pushed through these
cuts will also fundamentally change the way in which
Shelter delivers its services. It will transform the nature
of Shelter, which was built on the back of “Cathy
Come Home” to campaign against bad housing and
homelessness, into an organisation which prioritises
chasing government contracts above all else. The vast
majority of Shelter’s dedicated staff is fundamentally
opposed to these changes.
Management are pressurising staff to accept:
* Abolition of incremental pay
* An extension of the working week which amounts to
3 working weeks per year at no extra pay
* Downgrading of posts throughout Shelter’s housing
advice and support services with the same to come in
non-service divisions
* Changes to redundancy policy involving a massive
reduction in salary protection for redeployed staff
Staff are now being told they must sign to ‘agree’ a reduction
in their terms and conditions. If they refuse to
sign, management are threatening to implement the
changes without consent by sacking staff and offering
re-employment on new contracts with reduced terms
and conditions.
Effect on Shelter
The attacks will directly affect the quality of advice and
support given to some of the most vulnerable in society
– those who are homeless or badly housed. In
future, this work will be done by lower paid and less
skilled staff. What is more they will be under pressure
to “tick boxes” for contract purposes rather than prioritise
high quality, independent advice and support
services to those who need them.
This will seriously impact upon Shelter’s policy and
campaigning work which is meant to be informed by
the experiences of badly housed or homeless people.
Front line staff are increasingly less able to pass on
these experiences to staff in campaigning and policy
because of top-down pressure to deliver contractual
targets.
These attacks have dragged down staff morale. Shelter
staff feel betrayed by a senior management team
who seem to care little about the services delivered to
those who are homeless or badly housed. The cuts will
severely undermine Shelter’s ability to retain staff and
with them, essential and long standing expertise.
Shelter staff, like many in the not-for-profit sector, have
over the years willingly made financial sacrifices to
work in this field because it is important to them. We
are extremely angry that our senior management team
now tell us our pay and conditions are too generous.
They earn top-tax bracket salaries and will be materially
unaffected by these changes. What’s more, they
refuse to deny rumours that they paid themselves an
increase just before announcing cuts to the rest of the
organisation. Senior management claim they are only
paid the market rate for what they do. And yet they are
seeking to drive down the market pay rate for the rest
of us. Staff are genuinely astonished at this hypocrisy.
The cuts will make it difficult for many staff members
to maintain mortgage and rent payments, a bitter irony
for us considering Shelter’s work. Staff members
worst affected will be those with child care costs. They
not only have to absorb a significant pay cut but also
will have increased child care costs to bear as a result
of longer working hours.
Management’s case for change
Senior management claim that there is ‘no more
money’, we are ‘too expensive’ and there is a need to
reduce core costs. They say we live in a ‘contract environment’
where Shelter has to compete for statutory
Defend Shelter staff’s
pay and conditions
Defend Shelter
Support those who support
in Shelter those in bad housing
funding sources. This means, according to them, that
unit costs have to fall to win contracts.
But senior management also want to ‘re-engineer’ the
business – in other words, Shelter. In order to fulfil
Government contracts, they say that the organisation
will have to deliver in multiple areas of legal advice.
They claim if staff do not keep up with the times, then
many more jobs will be lost than under the present
proposals.
What we say
We completely reject the basis and detail of their
assumptions.
Shelter has a turnover of just under £50 million a year
with £10 million in reserves. Only around 20 per cent
is statutory funding from Government.
We don’t agree that statutory contracts should be
obtained at any price, nor are they a major portion of
Shelter’s income. These contracts mean a ‘race to the
bottom’ in terms of staff pay and conditions of those
organisations who bid for them.
But even if Shelter could demonstrate that it paid its
staff the least and therefore had the lowest unit costs,
there is still no guarantee that bids will be won. If Shelter
goes down this road and therefore moves away
from providing high quality independent housing advice
and support, its voluntary contributions are likely
to fall. People donate to Shelter because they believe
it helps those in housing need.
Shelter management like to quote Shelter’s radical
campaigning past but are comfortable to be associated
closely with Government policy even when it is
decimating advice and support services and making it
harder and harder for those who are homeless or badly
housed to access good quality, independent services.
Shelter staff are concerned at being told there is no
more money for services, yet there appears to be money
for highly paid consultants and a swanky refurbishment
of the head office.
Staff are committed to Shelter remaining an independent
organisation campaigning against homelessness
and bad housing. Each of management’s proposals
hits different sections of the workforce but all will undermine
Shelter’s work and our conditions. That is
why we are standing together in opposition to these attacks.
Therefore we call on management to withdraw
their “organisational changes” in their entirety.
What you should do
* Send messages of support to union members in Shelter: shelterstewards@googlemail.com and
c/o Alan Scott, T&GWU, Woodberry, 218 Green Lanes, N4 2HB
* Send messages of protest to Shelter’s senior management team.
Please send hard copies and emails to Adam Sampson, Shelter, 88 Old St, London, EC1V 9HU
adam_sampson@shelter.org.u.k . Ask that it be forwarded to the Board of the Directors and copy
it to Shelter stewards at the above address.
* Pass resolutions in your trade union branches supporting stewards and condemning these attacks.
We say:
* No compulsory redundancies
* No downgrading of posts
* No pay cuts
* Defend the jobs, pay and conditions of all Shelter staff
* Don’t allow bids for Government funding to change Shelter’s core values

Spikymike
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Feb 10 2008 18:53

Do you have any information on how this is playing out in Manchester/North West. Any contacts up here in Shelter? Any general information on what contracts Shelter has or is bidding for from Central/Local government?

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the button
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Feb 10 2008 22:31

IIRC, Shelter management tried something similar last year, only to have their proposals rejected by the workforce. Now it looks as though they're trying to force them through anyway.

There's a poster on here who used to be a union rep at Shelter (he was involved at the time of the original proposals) so he might see this.

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Steven.
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Feb 11 2008 00:02
the button wrote:
There's a poster on here who used to be a union rep at Shelter (he was involved at the time of the original proposals) so he might see this.

Oh yeah? I used to be a T&G member there, saw the flyer about this at my work from my union branch. Pretty fucked up.

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the button
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Feb 11 2008 10:46

Oh yes. You know him IRL, in fact. black bloc

Emphasis on the "used to be a rep" -- but I remember talking to him when the management tried to pull this shit (or shit very like it) the first time round.

ftony
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Feb 11 2008 13:43

my girlfriend is in the Crisis T&G branch and they've got wind of it too. looks like it could get jumpy.

chegrimandi
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Feb 13 2008 18:52
ftony wrote:
my girlfriend is in the Crisis T&G branch and they've got wind of it too. looks like it could get jumpy.

black bloc black bloc black bloc

I was the rep at Crisis last year - *wonders who ftonys mrs is*

(I think button is getting confused and thinking I used to work there)

I also know one of the existing reps there now still so she could probably help dish some dirt on shelter, I can also help source a fair bit of dirt myself...

they tried to push through performance related pay at Crisis last year and force people to sign new contracts etc - but due to SMT being hugely incompetent we easily repelled it with very little action needed at all and the bitch trying to push it through has subsequently 'parted company' with the organisation...

grin

will come back to this tmw properly as I'm meeting a mate now in the pub...

from what I know of the Shelter thing its been very top down, pushed through by SMT and very unpopular with the regional workforce...they are pushing the 'we need to be competitive' against outside tenders line as the rationale...

there have also been some quite interesting discussions on the intranet forum which it shouldn't be too hard to source...

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Steven.
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Feb 13 2008 19:14
the button wrote:
Oh yes. You know him IRL, in fact. black bloc

Emphasis on the "used to be a rep" -- but I remember talking to him when the management tried to pull this shit (or shit very like it) the first time round.

could you PM me who?

Age Concern are in dispute too in London, in my unison branch, over a couple of redundancies they want to force.

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the button
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Feb 13 2008 19:35
chegrimandi wrote:
(I think button is getting confused and thinking I used to work there)

I was. All these homeless charities look the same to me. embarrassed

chegrimandi
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Feb 14 2008 09:02
the button wrote:
I was. All these homeless charities look the same to me. embarrassed

daft apeth...

ftony
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Feb 14 2008 10:02
chegrimandi wrote:
ftony wrote:
my girlfriend is in the Crisis T&G branch and they've got wind of it too. looks like it could get jumpy.

black bloc black bloc black bloc

I was the rep at Crisis last year - *wonders who ftonys mrs is*

ooh, well i never. she works in the volunteering section. been there about 7 or 8 months. are you still at crisis?

chegrimandi
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Feb 14 2008 13:28
ftony wrote:
ooh, well i never. she works in the volunteering section. been there about 7 or 8 months. are you still at crisis?

no I left probably about 7 or 8 months ago... grin

I don't remember a new girl in volunteering that was a member so sounds like I just missed her...she'll work in the same team as my friend N**a though who's been there years and is a long standing member...

ftony
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Feb 14 2008 14:29

yeah, she sits opposite N. small world!

aaanyway, Shelter...

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Steven.
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Feb 18 2008 20:54

strike ballot underway!
http://www.tgwu.org.uk/Templates/News.asp?NodeID=94043&int1stParentNodeID=89396&int2ndParentNodeID=89396&Action=Display

facebook group here:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12089315663

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 18 2008 21:48

I've just been employed by shelter recently, one of the first things the management said was that there was a sense of dispondancy and poor motivation amongst staff but that i shouldnt get sucked into it. Next thing i find out is that theyre ballotting for strike action.

Quote:
What is more they will be under pressure
to “tick boxes” for contract purposes rather than prioritise
high quality, independent advice and support
services to those who need them.

It seems somewhat contradictionary that Shelter needs to bid for government funding when they are supposedly trying to alleviate a crisis in housing that the current government has exacerbated. Presumably these cuts in funding/increasing the intensity and quantity of work are conditions of funding from the legal services commission?

If anyone has any info relating to the ongoing dispute please can you pm me, i'm a wobbly but i'm considering getting dual membership with the T&G as theyre actually recognised by Shelter.

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Steven.
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Feb 19 2008 00:45

vac - contact the shelter stewards on shelterstewards@googlemail.com

if you joined you could help the yes vote in the ballot, i think that'd be worthwhile as it might be hard to win.

chegrimandi
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Feb 21 2008 10:20

ballot closes today I think...should know by end of tmw what has been voted for etc...

chegrimandi
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Feb 21 2008 10:23

this is all part of a wider problem in the voluntary sector with short term contracts awarded - year on year - giving no job security for any of the project staff employed off the back of the grants etc - charities should be securing 3/4/5 year deals not going cap in hand for big short contracts with no longevity...

ftony
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Feb 21 2008 14:42
chegrimandi wrote:
this is all part of a wider problem in the voluntary sector with short term contracts awarded - year on year - giving no job security for any of the project staff employed off the back of the grants etc - charities should be securing 3/4/5 year deals not going cap in hand for big short contracts with no longevity...

200% word to that. living with a vol sector worker, it seems like i've helped prepare for as many job interviews as i've had hot dinners. in the last four or five years my girlf has had one job contract that was funded for more than a year (it was 18 months i think). it is really irritating also when the government has a big, moderately interesting idea (e.g. 'V'/Russel Commission), pumps loads of money into it for four or five years and then moves onto the next voluntary sector fad. plus non-governmental funders are far more interested in funding new projects than sustaining ongoing ones. thus charities and organisations that rely on funding bodies rather than individual donors are screwed. and it's the workers who suffer for it, naturally. the sad thing is, it's a policy of 'treat em mean, keep em keen', and it bloody works.

charity bosses usually have great job security, of course, probably because the government needs some sort of stability and continuity at the top to ensure they can keep outsourcing public services to the charity/voluntary sector on a much smaller budget.

chegrimandi
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Feb 22 2008 10:08
ftony wrote:

charity bosses usually have great job security, of course, probably because the government needs some sort of stability and continuity at the top to ensure they can keep outsourcing public services to the charity/voluntary sector on a much smaller budget.

indeed - its the lower paid project workers - the people actually doing the fucking work that the charity exists to do, that face the annual round of redundancies/redeployment/cut in hours/uncertainty that normally kicks off about january time and lasts until april - its up to the bosses of large charities to stand up to the government & demand more intelligent funding options - at present they act like subservient pricks...its ultimately a collusion between civil servants/ministers & high paid senior management at charities that fucks over the lower paid workers in the charity - same as everywhere in that respect...

I've worked at 3 largeish charities now and all have had this cycle of redundancies/jobs coming to an end etc for front line staff...

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Steven.
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Feb 25 2008 00:06

Yep, this is a problem in local govt as well. In local govt, most councils have in the Ts and Cs that even contract staff should be eligible for redeployment and/or redundancy, although most people don't realise this. I don't know if maybe this is similar for the big charities at least? At my place we've just made management have to look at redeploying 2 staff whose project's external funding's dried up. We'll have to try to make sure this actually happens of course, but this is a big first step.

ftony
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Feb 25 2008 09:18

that's good that you're getting that stuff goingsteven. the thing with the sort of charity job that myself and chegrimandi are talking about is that a lot of the time the projects are actually funded by outside organisations, so the charity has no real say in the terms and conditions. it's also tricky because people like my girlf operate almost like freelancers in a way - going from one charity to the next where (in her case) volunteer co-ordinator posts come up.

sometimes you'll hit lucky and get a three-year post, but for the stratum of worker we're talking about here (quite highly skilled, and project/service-user focussed), they are operating on a very different system of employment compared to the 'core' workers for charities like administrators or fundraisers who might have more chance of gettign a permanent job. project workers are also very expendable because suppy massively outstrips demand in some areas at the moment, especially in the voluntary sector.

chegrimandi
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Feb 25 2008 09:46

voted strongly for strike action:

As I told you last week, Shelter union shop's ballot for industrial action ended last Thursday.

They got a 65.8 per cent turn out for the ballot, and a 76 per cent vote for industrial action -- so they will be taking a series of strike days over the next few weeks.

Their first strike day will be Wednesday 5 March, and they will be picketing Shelter's offices ( at 88 Old Street London EC1V 9HU - see map http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=532300&y=182334&z=0&sv=EC1V+9HU&st=2&pc=EC1V+9HU&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf) which is not far from here.

They will be picketing from 7.45 am -- I plan to go there for an hour or so before work, and will go back again at lunchtime. They will probably picket most of the moring, so you can turn up from 7.45 am until 12 noon.

Can anyone else turn up for the picket line on that day?

They think that one day of strike action will probably not change management's mind -- and suspect they will be out the following week for two days of strike action, and possibly the week after for three days -- so if you can't make it on Wednesday 5 March, you will probably have another opportunity.

smile

chegrimandi
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Feb 25 2008 09:47

ken loach was on radio 4 this morning on today programme calling for donors to boycott shelter in support of this struggle...

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oisleep
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Feb 25 2008 09:58
Quote:
They will be picketing from 7.45 am -- I plan to go there for an hour or so before work, and will go back again at lunchtime

your gonna cross a picket line twice in one day eek

ftony
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Feb 25 2008 10:17

haha, i got that email forwarded to me too - it's from another charity's union email list.

my lady and i will almost certainly be down there.

chegrimandi
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Feb 25 2008 10:24
oisleep wrote:
Quote:
They will be picketing from 7.45 am -- I plan to go there for an hour or so before work, and will go back again at lunchtime

your gonna cross a picket line twice in one day eek

1) I don't work at shelter
2) the email is not from me
3) the lady that sent the email works somewhere else - not shelter, and is a shop steward..

roll eyes roll eyes

kyliew
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Feb 25 2008 12:49

Hi

I'm a student journalist writing a story about this. I've got an official statement from Shelter Head Office about the pay dispute but am trying to get a quote from a worker actually striking. My student paper is Islington based, so really I need someone working at the Head Office on Old Street.

Do any of you know anyone happy to talk to me?

the paper will be there on Wed to cover the picketing so perhaps I'll see some of you there

cheers

chegrimandi
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Feb 25 2008 13:16
kyliew wrote:
Hi

I'm a student journalist writing a story about this. I've got an official statement from Shelter Head Office about the pay dispute but am trying to get a quote from a worker actually striking. My student paper is Islington based, so really I need someone working at the Head Office on Old Street.

Do any of you know anyone happy to talk to me?

the paper will be there on Wed to cover the picketing so perhaps I'll see some of you there

cheers

shelterstewards [AT] googlemail.com

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Steven.
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Feb 27 2008 20:03

loach article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/24/socialexclusion.filmnews

Loach is important cos his film - cathy come home - inspired Shelter's founding. Adam Sampson is a right cunt.

Quote:
Sampson, however, maintained: 'People give us money not to benefit our staff but to benefit those we were set up to serve - the poor, the vulnerable, the homeless - and my moral and legal duty is to use that money as efficiently as possible.'

How much do you get then you shitwit?

I will try to visit the line before work.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 28 2008 17:21

Has anyone seen Adam Sampson's condescending response to the planned strike action? What a cock.

There seems to be be strong support in favour of the strike action in my department both from union and no union staff, we're going to be having a picket line on the wednesday and it sounds as though it'll be well staffed to deter those thinking of going to work.