Unions hit roof after housing charity Shelter increases hours for workers

Housing charity Shelter is on a collision course with its staff after making changes to their terms and conditions.

Unions have accused the charity’s management of “bullying” staff into accepting inferior contracts, and have threatened strike action.

The charity said because of rising wage costs, the working week would increase by 2.5 hours, five workers are to be made redundant and annual pay rises above the rate of inflation will be scrapped.

Chief executive Adam Sampson said the charity “deeply regretted” having to make the changes.

“It is a very difficult situation and, of course, the unions and some staff are upset. But we cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope the financial situation and world economy will get better.

“If we act now, we lose no more than five staff, if we don’t act we could be forced to make up to 200 of our staff redundant, which is something we all want to avoid.”

Sampson said he refuted union allegations of bullying and intimidation.

“We have been negotiating with the trade unions, staff and managers for the past nine months, and through e-mails, management briefings, and question and answer [sessions] we have tried to give our staff all the information, while pointing out the reality and hard facts of the situation,” he said.

Shelter’s financial situation has arisen in part because the Legal Services Commission has changed the way it awards contracts, and the charity claims it is uncompetitive due to high staff costs and lower than average working hours.

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