Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Time for Action at Notting Hill Housing Trust – Strike Ballot Result

UNISON members at Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) have voted in favour of strike action. The ballot result was declared on 22 February 2010 and follows a long process of trying to negotiate with the employer. On a 56.6% turnout, 93.5% of UNISON members voted to strike. UNISON is the leading union representing workers employed in Housing Associations. In London, these UNISON members are part of a dedicated Housing Associations Branch.

During the ballot period, UNISON members at NHHT have received messages of support from UNISON members in other London housing associations, other UNISON branches and other unions. In addition delegations of NHHT UNISON members will be meeting with local politicians, both councillors and MPs. A letter writing campaign to NHHT Chief Executive (Kate Davies) has also taken place.
UNISON has written to the Tenant Services Agency and the Homes and Communities Agency to express its concern about the employer’s high handed attitude to its work force.

Messages of support can be sent to activists@unisonhablondon.org and to http://twitter.com/unisonhousing.

The ballot for strike action has arisen from NHHT imposing cuts to terms and conditions of employment which will have a negative effect on female staff with caring responsibilities (reducing carers’ leave and ending flexi-time). The employer’s own equality impact assessment has acknowledged this but the changes are going ahead anyway. Carers’ leave cost the organisation £30,000 in 2008 which is a small fraction of the Chief Executive’s current salary. Her most recently published salary is £165,868 (2008/2009) which was a 7% increase on the previous year and included a bonus of just under £11,000.

Strike action is very much the last resort. The NHHT Board has previously ignored a 300+ signature petition from staff, a 95% consultative ballot vote in favour of further action by UNISON members and a request to meet with ACAS. There does not appear to be any desire to negotiate by the employer.

Unison Housing Associations Branch Secretary, Mary Powell states “It is highly unusual for UNISON members in London housing associations to take industrial action, however NHHT has left its staff with little choice. The ballot result is clear. The Branch and its wider membership are four square behind UNISON members at NHHT. The employer does still however have an opportunity to return to the negotiating table so long as they genuinely want to reach an agreement”

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