Victory for Look Ahead Unite Members!

July 14, 2014 in News

Look Ahead Victory! Strike Off! There has been a stunning eve-of-strike victory for Look Ahead Unite Members.

After weeks of negotiation and an escalating threat of industrial action, with a seven day strike due to start on Thursday 9th July, members working in the four Hackney Look Ahead services were finally made an offer that they considered acceptable – and what a victory!

The offer included guaranteed redeployment or retention on current pay and conditions for those who wish to stay in service, enhanced redundancy for those who wish to leave, and trade union recognition for the Unite organised projects in Hackney (where, incidentally, membership is over 99%!). There will be no protest or picket lines outside Look Ahead.

The branch congratulates the Look Ahead workers who have done an amazing job in halting this particular attempt at a race to the bottom. This victory shows what can be achieved when members stick together and have the confidence to make a stand – and if our members in Look Ahead can do it, others can too.

Since the win, we are starting to hear from other lookahead workers keen to join the union and get involved.

Members in Lookahead of our branch, LE1111, will be chuffed and even before they won took part in the Unite video HAPPY. Think there was more dancing on July 9th!

BACKGROUND TO DISPUTE:

The members work at a vital mental health service and are already on low pay, having received an average pay cut of 15% less than two years ago. Yet now, their disgraceful employer is expecting them to take a further 14% pay cut. Skilled posts are to be deleted in a service which is already stretched to the limits. Look Ahead Care and Support is notorious within the care sector for undercutting other provider on service costs to win contracts, then slashing staff terms and conditions and the quality of services in order to make the contract pay. Publicly funded service contracts are thus squeezed to make a surplus, which is then partly used for lavish executive pay rises.

The most recently available accounts for Look Ahead show 12% growth, reserves of £61 million and a £60k pay rise for their highest paid executive. Instead of providing surpluses for these huge executive salaries, public funds should be spent on ensuring decent, safe and properly staffed residential care for vulnerable members of our community. It is pure corporate greed. – See more at: http://www.housingworkers.org.uk/readnews.html?con_id=84#sthash.8TjH9fPh.dpuf

The Housing Workers Branch is an active and diverse community of over 2,500 members. We have supported members in many workplaces to improve pay, terms and conditions, and to fight against the race to the bottom in social care and housing. We take a campaigning approach to our activities, and have run a number of successful and high profile campaigns to fight injustice in the workplace.

Some of the organizations we have reps & members in: Affinity Sutton, Circle, Equinox, Genesis, Habiteng, HCA, Lookahead, One Housing Group, Peabody, Sanctuary, St MungosBroadway, Thames Valley & More.

We have taken over 40 days of industrial action across 4 organisations, winning back money and dignity for our members! Join or support.

Contact – http://www.housingworkers.org.uk/contact-us.html 

 

Following successful negotiations with housing and social care charity Look Ahead, a seven day strike action planned from the 10th July has been called off. Unite the union’s members in Look Ahead’s vital mental health services are already on low pay, having received an average pay cut of 15% less than two years ago. Yet their disgraceful employer proposed a further 14% pay cut and the deletion of skilled posts in a service which is already stretched to the limits.

 

Look Ahead Care and Support is notorious within the care sector for undercutting other provider on service costs to win contracts, then slashing staff terms and conditions and the quality of services in order to make the contract pay. Publicly funded service contracts were thus squeezed to make a surplus, which is then partly used for lavish executive pay rises.

 

The most recently available accounts for Look Ahead show 12% growth, reserves of £61 million and a £60k pay rise for their highest paid executive. Yet instead of providing surpluses for these huge executive salaries, every penny of public funds should be spent on ensuring decent, safe and properly staffed residential care for vulnerable members of our community. It is pure corporate greed.

 

But Unite members supported by the Housing Workers Branch fought back and blocked Look Ahead’s path in the race to the bottom. They organised two protests outside Hackney Council which commissions services from Look Ahead, and simultaneously ran a ballot for industrial action. The resulting vote returned 100% in favour of industrial action and set out clear demands for the employer which included protecting existing pay and contracts. Look Ahead initially offered small concessions, but members resolutely refused to be bought off. The company finally made a dramatic eve-of-strike capitulation to union demands and the workers won. The new offer included guaranteed redeployment or retention on current pay and conditions for those who wish to stay in service, enhanced redundancy for those who wished to leave, and trade union recognition for the four Unite organised projects in Hackney (where, incidentally, membership is over 99%!).

 

This is an inspiring victory and clearly demonstrates that union members backed by a strong branch can secure gains even when they do not have union recognition and are operating within a sector characterised by fragmented services, low paid and overworked staff, a commitment to caring for vulnerable clients, and the continuous churn caused by the commissioning process. The Unite Housing Workers Branch has paid tribute to the determination of its Look Ahead members and hopes that the victory will inspire many others.