Around 200 St Mungo’s strikers rallied outside the homelessness charity’s headquarters at Thomas More Square in east London on Thursday. It marked the day, 10 August, that a court ban on bosses using agency workers as scab labour came into force.
Music, whistles and horns filled the square outside the multi-million-pound offices. It’s clear that the ban will hit St Mungo’s bosses, who’ve been relying on agency staff to undermine the Unite union members’ indefinite strike to win a pay rise.
After the court ban, bosses may try to hire some workers on short-term contracts and bring in others to cover unfilled vacancies. But the strikers were resolute that they’d keep putting pressure on agencies to stop providing scab labour.
Strikers shared their recent tales from the picket line. A picket from Hackney, east London, said, “Our manager came out today and told us they can’t find any cleaning staff. So regional managers are coming in to clean the accommodation at Mare Street.
“They’ll see what our hardest working staff have to go through everyday. They’ve shown us so little respect for so long, but we’re staying strong with dignity and fighting back. We won’t take it anymore.”
Another striker, Letty said, “Seymour Place in central London was quiet today. But yesterday we had a special guest visitor—CEO Emma Haddad. We formed a welcome party. We questioned her on why executive salaries are so high when St Mungo’s frontline staff are being made homeless, and why the offers have been so poor.
“We were met with defensiveness and she was extremely condescending in her tone. I was shocked to experience this first hand.
“But it shows she’s afraid. Our conversation ended with her crossing her fingers and saying, ‘Let’s hope this dispute ends soon.’ We don’t need her to cross her fingers—we need her to give us a pay rise.”
Workers in London were joined by strikers from Brighton, and some strikers the day before had travelled to Bristol to be part of a rally there.
Another striker shared a story of two people—who had gone back into work—coming back out on strike on Thursday. And they brought two long term temporary workers coming out with them. Service managers at the Great Guildford Street (GGS) picket in south London joined the pickets for the first time.
“Pickets are important,” a striker from GGS said. “I’d dropped off a bit because I was tired of having the same conversations and not much movement. But persistence is key.”
The day ended by marching to the office of trustee Joanna Killian, an honorary member at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting.
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