Workers in the housing charity Shelter are on strike again on 24-25 April against enforced cuts in pay and conditions. Previous strikes on 5 and 10 March forced Shelter bosses, who at first insisted that they would never negotiate, to put the cuts on hold and talk at ACAS. But their ACAS offer was only a one-off “compensation” payment.
Shelter workers rejected the deal by 64% majority, in a 56% turnout, despite pressure from TGWU-Unite full-time officials to accept. Workers have achieved a lot.
l A union has been built from a shell into a reasonably well-organised majority of Shelter staff.
l Four successive ballot results have demonstrated staff’s rejection of the cuts.
l Shelter staff have taken national strike action for the first time ever, forcing management to come back to the negotiating table after they vowed they would not.
l A huge amount of support from the wider labour movement has been pouring in, and this has allowed the creation of a good-sized strike fund.
l A great deal of negative press for Shelter management.
Shelter bosses will claim that they will “never” back down. But they said that before our first strikes, and then... backed down, at least partially. They are clearly shocked and un-nerved by Shelter workers’ rejection of their measly ACAS offer. More action can get them to back down properly.
For too long the voluntary sector has been a place where lack of job security, poor pay and unpaid overtime “for the service users” has been the norm.