Hitchin homeless shelter staff to go on strike

Staff at North Herts Sanctuary are set to strike

Staff at North Herts Sanctuary are set to strike - Credit: Archant

Staff at a homeless shelter are to go on strike for a week, meaning a number of support services will be unavailable.

Six employees at the North Herts Sanctuary in Hitchin will walk out for seven days from Saturday over working patterns, pay and other entitlements.

The support staff are employed by St Mungo’s – a national homeless charity supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – which runs the hostel in Nightingale Road.

It provides temporary accommodation, as well as day services to help address the social and health needs of people using the service.

A statement from the Housing Workers Branch, which is part of trade union Unite, said: “Management propose to change members’ working patterns whilst denying them any respective change to pay and other entitlements. Instead they propose that certain staff members receive up to £1,700 a year less than staff carrying out the same work elsewhere in the organisation. Additionally, management wish staff to remain on ‘discretionary’ sick pay. Over the past year, management have used this ‘discretion’ to refuse sick pay to staff undergoing cancer investigations and surgery.”

St Mungo’s began working in partnership with staff and the trustee board already in place at the shelter in 2011, under plans to develop and improve the site.

Elizabeth Harper, St Mungo’s regional director, said: “We began managing the night shelter two years ago in response to a request from North Herts District Council and the local charity trustees. Part of that has been to move from an overnight only service for local homeless people to a 24-hour service, which has involved bringing in new shift patterns for the staff team which were negotiated with the Unite union.

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“The sanctuary will remain open and we will seek to minimise the impact of this proposed industrial action, while asking the workers involved to reconsider taking industrial action.”

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