Edinburgh strikes: Workers at homelessness charity Shelter walk out over pay amid claims many unable to pay rent

Shelter workers go on strike in bitter pay row amid reports many are unable to pay their rent
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Around 600 workers at housing and homeless charity Shelter started an unprecedented fortnight of strike action today in a dispute over pay.

It follows a pay increase of three per cent which Union has criticised as a blow to workers. Unite bosses said low pay is forcing staff at the charity's support services and offices to the brink of homelessness themselves because many struggle to pay their rent.

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Workers took to the picket lines on Monday in Charlotte Square joining others around the country over the row. The dispute has become increasingly bitter as Unite claims the charity’s management has "refused to enter into negotiations” over this year’s pay deal. Under the current proposal Unite says workers will be hit with an equivalent pay cut of 11 per cent – while inflation is at 14.2 per cent.

Workers started a 2-week strike at Charlotte Square on MondayWorkers started a 2-week strike at Charlotte Square on Monday
Workers started a 2-week strike at Charlotte Square on Monday

One worker said: “I'm a single parent. I'm now in overdraft every month. I go around switching my lights off. I have turned my boiler down. I get stressed when the kids’ school wants me to pay for another school trip. The best acknowledgement my employer can give me for all my hard work is decent pay.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is unforgivable that workers at Shelter find themselves actually being haunted by the prospect of being made homeless. Shelter has sufficient reserves to pay its hardworking and dedicated staff a decent par rise but it has chosen not to. Our members at Shelter will receive Unite’s complete and unyielding support in their fight for a better deal.”

Talks collapsed at the conciliation service Acas on Thursday, Unite said. The union is not accepting an offer from the charity of an increase of four per cent with no further pay increase for staff until April 2024.

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Shelter’s offices hit by the strike action include Edinburgh, its head office in Old Street, London, and offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee, Blackburn, Norwich, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Shelter has been contacted for comment.

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