Over 200 striking Shelter workers demonstrated outside the housing charity’s head office in London yesterday.
For the first time in Shelter’s 41-year history the workers, members of Unite (TGWU section), took part in a one-day strike against cuts in pay and conditions.
Several hundred workers are on notice of dismissal after refusing to sign inferior new work contracts.
Shelter head office Unite shop steward Elizabeth O’Hara told News Line: ‘People are extremely angry and frustrated, and quite shocked that Shelter is cutting the wages and conditions of its workers who provide services to the homeless.’
Striker Deborah Garvie added: ‘I was sacked from my job at head office because I wouldn’t sign to the new terms. I am just one of hundreds who are being sacked for the same reason.
‘They want everybody to work two and a half hours extra per week for no extra pay.
‘It’s to do with the government wanting us to compete under competitive tendering for legal services contracts, which were known as legal aid.
‘I feel very upset and worried, very angry as well.
‘I came to work at Shelter because I wanted to help people who are homeless, and this will affect them.’
Fellow striker Jenny Bell added: ‘We are concerned that what Shelter are doing is going to affect the quality of advice. I’m on strike on principle, even though I am not directly affected.’
Sarah Walsh, a caseworker from South Gloucestershire and North Bristol Housing Aid Centre, said: ‘I’m threatened with a pay cut of £3,300 a year to do the same job.
‘In my office, we are funded by different contracts and are satisfying them, yet Shelter are downgrading our jobs.
‘We have very experienced case workers. Many are deciding to leave because they are so disgusted with the changes and the way they are being treated by senior management.’