Sanctuary housing workers continue strike

Sanctuary Housing maintenance workers in Unite the Union are continuing their strike action over pay and union recognition. The workers involved in the dispute are based in Hackney but recruitment to the union in Sanctuary is increasing nationwide. A strike rally at the company office near the Kingsmead housing estate will be taking place on 26 April.


Sanctuary housing workers vote to escalate action

by Paul Kershaw, Unite Housing Workers Branch chair

Sanctuary housing maintenance workers once again had a good turnout for the picket line on Monday 25 March.

The strike of these London-based workers has got off to a brilliant start. They are fighting for union recognition and a pay rise that compensates for real-terms cuts in pay.

Sanctuary picket meeting March 2024
Sanctuary strike picket line.
Photo: Unite housing branch

Sanctuary Housing Association is a large national employer that refuses to recognise unions and has never before faced strike action. Its revenues for last year stood at £943 million, and its surplus increased by 73% to £101.3 million.

Monday’s picket meeting voted unanimously to escalate action — a further nine days starting on 10 April.

Despite a bullying approach from local managers, confidence is high, with new members signing up to the union and joining the strike every day. Support from tenants has been overwhelming.

Sanctuary has a presence throughout England, Wales and Scotland, and it is very significant that workers are joining Unite around the country, as they face similar issues to the London team.

Contact the branch for speakers, donations and to give support: [email protected]


Sanctuary housing workers: Bosses up the ante

by Unite housing workers branch member

Sanctuary Housing Association London maintenance workers are on strike again, and although there are hopes of a breakthrough due to management agreeing to attend talks at ACAS, workers have been angered by management announcing that they intend to scrap the retention bonus of £500 per year.

This amounts to what many workers describe as 1.5% of their salary, which made previous pay offers more palatable. Having removed this bonus, workers both in London and elsewhere are reacting with fury.

Sanctuary 2024 strike
Sanctuary housing workers picket line.
Photo: Unite Housing Workers branch

This could lead to more workers joining the ballot for strike action. Workers in London are reaching out to other maintenance staff throughout the UK and calling on Unite the Union nationally to organise a petition demanding that Sanctuary reverse its appalling decision.

Sanctuary’s announcement was communicated via video. Management stated that this bonus was no longer necessary as recruitment problems had eased post Covid. This completely ignores the effects of the cost-of-living crisis.

One Sanctuary rep said: “This is an appalling decision and shows how out of touch with staff Sanctuary is. It demonstrates further why we need a union and for Sanctuary to recognise us.”

Another responded to management’s decision by saying: “This feels like management sticking two fingers up to workers who held the fort when things were bad during Covid. They then make it worse by pretending that the decision was done with the consent of the staff council, which it was not.

“It shows the need for workers to have an independent voice. That voice should be Unite and it further vindicates our decision to take strike action.”