St Mungo’s homelessness charity strikers are fighting to step up pressure on the bosses and to deepen workers’ control of their indefinite strike.
St Mungo’s has more than enough money to pay for the 10 percent pay rise that the union is calling for. It has £16 million in cash plus substantial reserves.
So far bosses have offered only a 3 percent “rise”. That means intense hardship for workers. And there can’t be proper service for St Mungo’s clients with a workforce that has to endure repeated pay cuts and has to use foodbanks.
The 800 striking Unite union members based in London, Bournemouth, Oxford, Bristol, and Brighton have fought off attempts by union officials to suspend the action until a ban on agencies providing scabs comes in on 10 August.
The High Court recently agreed that the law allowing the use of agency workers had not been properly passed.
Strikers rightly argued that the action should keep going. And they want to build up workers’ control of the strike.
“Active strikers have won changes to how it is managed,” striker Daniel told Socialist Worker.
“The newly-created strike committees have to be listened to, and more accountability is being brought forward. Members will be allowed into union reps’ meetings and discussions to intervene in strategy.
“We want to make sure strike committee and active members have more of a say on what decisions are made, and that our reps are more accountable.”
“There must be no more decisions made behind members’ backs. No more secret meetings or bad deals.”
Unite’s national negotiators told management at a negotiating meeting on Monday that only a substantial pay offer would settle the dispute.
“That meeting lasted something like 20 minutes,” said Daniel “The chief executive Emma Haddad was rattled—she lost her cool again. We walked out and that’s what we should’ve been doing eight weeks ago.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham came to the St Mungo’s picket for the first time last week. That’s positive, but it took a long time to happen, and Unite has not made the St Mungo’s strike a national focus.
If Unite uses its strength at every level if can back the strikers and make sure of a victory that would echo throughout the sector and wider. It would be a win for indefinite action.
Strikers will now continue to hold rallies and pickets every day outside agencies, St Mungo’s buildings and trustee offices. And they will hold local strike committee meetings and pan-London committee meetings.
“We’ve got a chance for a new narrative—to the bosses we say forget the bullshit, we’re not having this anymore,” Daniel said. “You can see people coming back to the picket lines, or coming out for the first time in nine weeks.
“We’ve convinced three agencies to not supply St Mungo’s—that feels great. And we’ll have to make sure that what’s been agreed with reps and the committees sticks.”
Unite has recruited 350 new members since the start of the strike.
St Mungo’s strikers must keep their lively and energised action going to win the deal they deserve. And they should continue to have confidence in organising from below, holding reps and officials to account.
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