Sanctuary Group staff to protest over wage dispute

uniteHousing staff will stage a demonstration outside Sanctuary Group’s headquarters in Worcester today in protest over proposed pay conditions.

Members of the Unite union will highlight to members of the public the difference between CEO David Bennett’s £320,000 salary and the £8,000 pay cut that it claims many frontline workers will be getting.

Housing and care provider Sanctuary has more than 11,000 employees across the country.

According to the union, it has blamed the pay cut frontline workers will receive on the introduction of the UK government’s National Living Wage claiming that in order to bring lower paid employees pay up in line with the new limit, those on higher wages will need to take a pay cut.

The majority of staff affected by the cuts work in the supported living sector of Sanctuary providing support to elderly people in care homes and sheltered housing, people with mental health problems, young and disabled people, Unison said.

Their work covers assisting people in their homes and providing support to complete forms such as benefit claims forms. Government cuts to social care means that this line of work is now even more intense.

Scottish Housing News understands that no staff in Scotland are affected.

Unite members will be urging members of Worcester’s public to sign a petition against the cuts and to send a letter or email of protest to the CEO.

Unite regional officer Adam Lambert said: “It is despicable that a so called social landlord can treat its workforce, who support some of the most vulnerable people in society, in such a shameful way.

“This is one of the richest organisations within the housing sector with huge surpluses and a CEO paying himself a massive salary. If anyone should be taking a pay cut to fund the National Living Wage it should be the CEO.

“This is about showing David Bennett and every other housing association that Unite will act hard against attacks on members’ pay.

“Our members have reported a bullying management culture, impossible workloads, long hours and stressful working conditions – they do not deserve to be rewarded with a massive pay cut.”

Sanctuary Group said that the proposals were revised following consultation with staff and only a small number of colleagues are adversely affected.

Nicole Seymour, director - corporate services, Sanctuary Group, told Scottish Housing News: “We recognise the good intentions behind this protest and welcome the opportunity to clarify the facts.

“Of Sanctuary Group’s 11,000 staff, 1,502 people were consulted about a change to terms and conditions between June and July this year.

“We had an open dialogue with the colleagues involved, both on a one-to-one basis and through our representative Staff Council framework. They were given a range of proposals, which were revised following their feedback.

“As a result, of the 1,502 staff who are affected, 1,018 of them will receive an increase in their salary and 144 will see no change in their salary, while three people will see a reduction of around £8,000.

“Even though only a small number of colleagues are adversely affected, we recognise how difficult this is for them, and as such, we have committed to protecting their salaries until 1 May 2017.

“These proposals will deliver a set of fair, consistent and sustainable terms in line with market conditions that will support the Group to continue to deliver services and employment nationally.”

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