St Mungo’s recognise two unions – Unison and Unite the Union – and respects the right of its staff to join a union of its choice.
Representatives from both our recognised unions meet regularly with key personnel from St Mungo’s and we have had good engagement on a number of policies we’ve developed over the past months including a menopause policy, our approach to our pension provider and our health and safety policies. We have agreed a protocol of engagement, based on mutual respect, and we have publically supported the principles of Unite’s Unity over Division charter and Unison’s violence at work charter.
We have our Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) where issues are discussed and debated in order to find solutions and resolution.
From time to time issues are raised which, despite efforts to resolve, result in industrial action. Wherever this is the case our aim is to ensure that any impact on services is minimised and the safety and wellbeing of our clients and staff remains a priority.
Below details the latest information on issues relating to our work with our two recognised unions, Unite and Unison.
An independent review into how we work with our two recognised trade unions has made a series of recommendations for us to take forward to help avoid disputes in the future.
The review was commissioned earlier in the year by St Mungo’s to seek a way forward from a recent history of difficult relations with one of its two recognised trade unions and was undertaken by Ria Bailes, of Bailes Partners Consulting, a senior HR professional, with extensive experience in the housing sector, who is known to all three parties.
Ria said: “Following my review, I have no criticism for either party but set out my findings in the hope that a healthier and more positive relationship will be built.”
Steve Douglas CBE, chief executive of St Mungo’s, welcomed the findings of the review. “Both our unions are really important to us. We’ve sought to be open and transparent in our dealings with both and have worked closely with them to examine where we can improve and what we can all learn for a better long term relationship’.
“We accept fully the recommendations in both reviews, and I was heartened by the constructive way in which they were proposed to be taken forward by all parties, and hope that going forward we can work effectively together for the benefit of all staff at St. Mungo’s.
“I would particularly like us to continue our work with both our unions on safe spaces throughout our organisation. We do have strong diversity networks, with both informal and informal channels for employees to use, and these are invaluable to our work on diversity and inclusion. But there is more that we can do, and I would hope that our unions will continue to work with us to get this right.’’
The recommendations focused on improving communications, relationship building and trust, working together to find solutions as a way to try to avoid disputes in the future – making 11 recommendations overall. The full report which includes the recommendations can be found here.
A separate part of the review also considered the processes relating to an internal enquiry. This part of the review concluded that St Mungo’s followed the relevant procedures correctly and those procedures safeguard fairness. Legal advice was taken at various stages to ensure that actions and decisions were lawful, correct, just and proportionate. A summary of findings from this can be found here. As this relates to an internal enquiry which is now concluded it would be inappropriate to comment further on this aspect.
Ria Bailes has worked for the Housing Corporation, and One Housing Group, and has been co-chair of the National Housing Federation Equality and Diversity Working Group.
After productive talks, St Mungo’s welcomed the news that striking Unite members of its Property Services team voted to return to work on 15 July. In April eight of the 12 members of Unite who work in the Property Services team voted in favour of industrial action. The dispute related to allegations of bullying and investigations into grievances made, which St Mungo’s robustly refuted.
We welcome the news that colleagues have come back to work, helping us ensure the safety and welfare of our clients. At the beginning of the dispute we confirmed that given the complexity of the cases we would commission an independent review of the handling of the procedures and we are pleased that Unite has now agreed to engage with this review.
Throughout the dispute we have been clear that we take any allegations of bullying or harassment very seriously, irrespective of whether they are a union member. We are committed to ensuring that St Mungo’s staff feel safe in raising their concerns and that we address these through strong, robust policies. Working with both our recognised Unions, Unison and Unite the Union we want to ensure that our policies are applied fairly and look forward to constructive discussions as part of regular engagement going forward.