“Victimised, bullied and discriminated” – St Mungo’s strikers fight on

by Paul Kershaw, Chair, Unite LE 1111 housing workers branch

St Mungo’s strikers had a warm welcome when they addressed the Hackney May Day march on 1 May. Jackie and Vicko spoke at the start of the march. The property services workers have been on continuous strike since 22 April demanding an end to bullying and victimisation.

Marchers heard how a St Mungo’s worker had returned from sick leave after surgery for cancer. Rather than being allowed to return gradually, she was expected to work through a backlog of tasks that had accumulated during her sick leave. This was contrary to advice given to the charity by its own occupational health practitioners.

When St Mungo’s failed to properly investigate a grievance about bullying in the workplace – refusing to speak to twelve witnesses – the workers had no option but to strike. Far from seeking a solution, the management have put the rep who took out the grievance on a gross misconduct charge, which means he could lose his job.

St Mungo’s strike 26 April 2021

Management argue that raising concerns about bullying had caused distress to senior managers and that this constitutes gross misconduct!

Another charge is that his reluctance to conduct a ‘back to work’ interview with the worker who was recovering from surgery amounted to insubordination.

Half of Unite reps at St Mungo’s face formal HR processes about their own employment and 68% of respondents to a Unite survey said they had experienced bullying from senior management. St Mungo’s management have refused to discuss this survey on the grounds that they do not see bullying as a collective issue.

One worker told us: “I just feel that I’ve been so grossly mistreated by management that I had to speak out and express to them how unhappy I was. I followed the processes in place at St Mungo’s and as a result I was treated despicably! I am not happy and this is a reason why I’ve gone out on strike.

“I’m a union rep and I’m here to support our members. But they are targeting us. We have been victimised, bullied and discriminated. St Mungo’s you are a bully! Do better!”

Unite believe that senior managers are attempting to intimidate the workforce and has appealed to Chief Executive Steve Douglas to rethink his position.

St Mungo’s maintenance workers on indefinite strike

28 APRIL 2021

St Mungo’s maintenance workers in London continue on indefinite strike against victimisation and bullying. One worker says: “Reps, especially health and safety reps who have been supporting members in this pandemic, have been targeted during this restructuring process within St Mungo’s and now face redundancy.”

by Unite members in St Mungo’s

15 APRIL 2021

Maintenance workers in the troubled homelessness charity St Mungo’s have voted for indefinite strike action. The strike concerns a failure to investigate management bullying and harassment of union reps – nearly half of Unite reps in the organisation are engaged in formal processes regarding their own employment.

The Orwellian response has been to suspend a rep who raised a grievance concerning management bullying. It seems this has been distressing for senior managers! If this move was intended to intimidate it has failed and the mood has hardened across the organisation.

Belligerent management

The belligerent approach of management raises the need for wider strike action in the organisation.

Workers at homelessness charity St Mungo’s on strike
London, 17 March 2020

In a recent Unite survey, 68% of respondents reported that they have experienced bullying from St Mungo’s management.

One worker says: “Reps, especially health and safety reps who have been supporting members in this pandemic, have been targeted during this restructuring process within St Mungo’s and now face redundancy.”

Members of the Unite housing workers branch (LE1111) are committed to supporting St Mungo’s workers all the way.

Concerns about St Mungo’s senior management have been raised over several years; care organisations in which staff are punished for speaking up have a record of poor treatment of vulnerable clients.

Unite believes that many of St Mungo’s services are currently excellent. This is because of the commitment of frontline workers and managers.

However, the approach of the senior leadership of the organisation has been cause for deep concern in recent years and will tend to erode services over time unless corrected.

Unless management changes its position, strike action will begin from Thursday 22 April.