St Mungo’s strikers rally in central London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

St Mungo’s strikers are to be consulted by e-ballot on a rubbish new offer—it must be rejected. The Unite union members officially began an indefinite strike on Tuesday, following a month of being on strike. 

In a sign that St Mungo’s bosses are under pressure, a new offer has emerged. The consolidated pay offer of £1,050 would work out on average as just 3 percent per worker. 

Bosses have added in a series of other elements to the offer—an increase in annual leave of 3 days for example. But these seem to be little more than window dressing for another poor offer that falls way below inflation—currently 11.4 percent by the more accurate RPI measure. 

St Mungo’s workers were initially offered an insulting 1.75 percent. Bosses then came back with another paltry offer of 2.25 percent. So, the new offer of around 3 percent is an improvement—but it still falls well below the 10 percent Unite is demanding. Many strikers see this demand as the bottom line because, if won, it will still be below inflation.

St Mungo’s bosses say there is no money—but they are not willing to show Unite their accounts. This lack of transparency has created widespread distrust of Haddad.

Following talks at the arbitration service Acas on Thursday, Unite members learned that there will be an e-ballot over a short three-day period beginning on Friday. There was considerable anger on some of the picket lines on Friday morning as strikers discussed the offer. 

Many strikers feel that they haven’t come this far, in five weeks of strikes, to settle for an offer which amounts to less than a third of the union’s demand. Do Unite union leaders really believe it is worthy of consideration by its members?

A vote on the new offer at a mass meeting on Friday afternoon went 126 to 20 against the offer. The same meeting agreed that details of this vote will be sent as part of the e-ballot, members in this meeting also wanted the e-ballot extended until Wednesday. 

The new offer should be robustly rejected. Emma Haddad, St Mungo’s CEO, whose salary is £189,000 a year, is showing signs that she is weakening in her ambition to face down the strike. Last week, Unite reps reported that she had been shouting and swearing in talks—now there is a new offer.

Unite initially balloted 500 members—according to the union, it has now grown to 800 strong. In London a series of regular strike rallies have built and sustained morale and unity in the dispute. 

If this offer is rejected, strikers must continue the picketing and regular rallies and tighten the organisation of the strike in order to win. Union leaders must also make hardship funds readily available to any strikers who are struggling.

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