Staff victory as charity backs down in union battle

Unite strike september wishaw ha

Staff on strike last September outside Wishaw and District Housing Association's HQ

​Long-running dispute at housing association ends after bosses are forced to strike a compromise agreement with staff 

6th February 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Staff at a housing association have scored a major victory after defying moves to change their working hours and conditions.   

Trade union Unite said a dispute between workers and management at Wishaw and District Housing Association has now been resolved after the association compromised on its initial proposals.

The housing association was trying to take four days’ holiday a year from the staff and to increase their working week by 30 minutes – the equivalent of four additional working days a year.

It resulted in an lengthy dispute culminating in 14 members of the union taking strike action between 28 October and 2 November last year including housing officers, senior staff customer services assistants, cleaners, maintenance assistants, and accounts assistants.

The move followed four previous days of strike action at the end of September.

Former vice-chair Eddie Mullen resigned amid the long-running dispute, criticising the actions of the hosuing association's chief executive Niall Gordon.

After the conciliation service ACAS intervened, it was agreed that the holiday entitlement would remain at 29 days rather than being reduced to 25, while the working week would be increased from 34.5 hours to 35 hours.

Private medical insurance will be maintained for existing staff, but with the association’s contribution capped at the current level.

The terms were ratified by staff in a ballot and by the board of the association.

Unite regional officer, Gordon Casey, said: “Our members are pleased that their concerns have now been addressed by the association and look forward to an open, honest working relationship with the board and management in the future.”

Brenda Higgins, chairperson of Wishaw and District Housing Association, said: “We are very pleased to have resolved these issues. This enables us to make a fresh start and develop the work of the association in a way that benefits tenants and the wider community.

“With a majority of new board members, this is a time of change for us and we are keen to ensure that staff are fully involved in helping us shape the association’s future.”