Housing association staff strike over plans to cut holiday entitlement

Housing

Unite said Wishaw Housing Association’s proposals were the ‘final straw’ after pay cuts earlier this year.

27th September 2016 by Gavin Stuart 1 Comment

Staff at a housing association are taking industrial action in a bid to safeguard their holiday entitlement.

Unite said its members at Wishaw and District Housing Association (WDHA) were going on strike for four days from today (Tuesday) after bosses proposed cutting their annual leave from 29 to 25 days.

The association also plans to increase the length of the working week from 34.5 to 35 hours.

A Unite spokesman said the plans were the “final straw” after staff were subjected to pension reductions in 2014 and a pay cut earlier this year.

These latest cuts are the final straw for our members, and they are determined to resist them

In total, 14 members of staff will take part in the action, including housing officers, senior staff customer services assistants, cleaners, maintenance assistants, and accounts assistants.

Gordon Casey, Unite regional officer, said: “Wishaw Housing Association has not played fair with our members in recent years and has even been acting against the advice of its own employers’ association - Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH).

“In 2014 our members had their pensions massively reduced. EVH said there should be a minimum two-year consultation period, but Wishaw HA pushed ahead regardless.

“In that same year our members had to go through an incredibly stressful job evaluation process, and a number of posts were downgraded. But in 2015 EVH did an independent re-evaluation, and all of the posts bar one were put back to their original pay grade.

“In 2016 all of our members suffered a pay cut, with the largest cut being in excess of £3,000 per annum.

“On top of that there have been job cuts that have increased workloads for remaining staff, a reduction in bereavement allowance, and changes in rotas to allow the association’s office to remain open at lunchtime.

“Our members have been flexible and dealt with these massive changes with an open mind and with good will – but these latest cuts are the final straw for our members, and they are determined to resist them.”

Niall Gordon, the association’s chief executive, said: “WDHA is disappointed that staff has taken this action. Staff have withdrawn from negotiations and WDHA have asked staff to reconsider their strike action and to resume negotiations.

“The terms and conditions within Wishaw have been historically higher and in excess of those agreed between EVH and Unite union within the housing sector, the board at WDHA now wish to align these with the terms and conditions on offer elsewhere in the sector.

“Our office is open and providing a service to our residents.” 

12th April 2017 by Rank Officer

Housing Association Officers are grossly overpaid and have been under performing for years. 25 days annual leave entitlement is the norm throughout the sector so why should WDHA staff demand 29. Public holidays are also generous. 35 hours is also the norm. Not to mention company cars being publicly funded within community based HAs! EVH are basically on the gravy train of publicly funded organisations. RSLs pay a membership fee (for services that should be scrutinised also) and RSLs are funded by the Scottish Government. Salaries of housing association officers and particularly, senior managers, require an urgent review. Management overheads within HAs are strangling their financial capacity to provide new housing. Is it no wonder the SHR are increasing intervention within the sector. The sector as a whole is in urgent need of a review. Unite and EVH only act as supporters for staff when it suits them and not when they are in bed with HR departments! However, most HAs do not have HR departments! This is another huge concern for the management of HAs. Niall, things could be worse. You could be up at court for filming staff in GHA toilets! In all, the staff should be hanging their heads in shame at their own greed and I just wonder how their own job performance is doing?!