Cost of living crisis © Katie Smith
Cost of living crisis © Katie Smith

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter are set to have a 600 worker walkout amidst pay disputes with unions, leaving employees potentially homeless themselves.

A fortnight’s worth of strike action is set to take place from Monday, coinciding with one of the busiest periods of the year for many shelters around the city.

The workforce union Unite have recently revealed that the 3% pay increase this year still left staff members struggling to pay their bills as the cost of living battle continues to affect those in need.

This comes as the union argued the one-off payments would “leave pay rates at unacceptably low levels, and fail to take into account rampant inflation”.

The strike began on Monday 5th, where workers put on a united front.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, 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 pay rise, but it has chosen not to.”

Pay negotiations allegedly collapsed at the conciliation service Acas last week. At the talks, management refused to increase the pay offer for 2022, instead proposing a pay increase of 4% for 2023/24 with no further pay increase for staff until April 2024, which the union claims amounted to a further pay cut of at least 10% for its staff.

The two weeks of strike action will see its staff join postal and rail employees and workers across a number of other sectors who are taking part in industrial action over pay in what has been called “The December of Discontent”.

Tim Gutteridge, director of finance and strategy enablement for Shelter, told MNL: “Regrettably the cost-of-living crisis is impacting both our colleagues and operational costs, and we are doing everything we can to navigate these challenging economic times.

“Industrial action is not the outcome we wanted after months of talks with the union, but we fully respect people’s right to strike.

We are making every effort to continue to serve those in need of our help

“As a Real Living Wage employer, Shelter is also implementing the Real Living Wage Foundation’s increase of 10.1% from December 2022, much earlier than required, benefiting the colleagues who receive this at the earliest opportunity.”

The homelessness charity offers advice and support on housing issues and homelessness, runs a free emergency helpline open 365 days a year, has solicitors who provide free legal advice and attend court in some cases, runs national campaigns and carries out research.

Shelter has said some of its services would be “temporarily impacted” during the strike, but added: “We are making every effort to continue to serve those in need of our help.”

Shelter said that anyone who needed urgent housing advice should visit its website to access its digital advice and services information here.

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