Messages of support and solidarity

Shelter workers experienced a similar situation 2 years ago with management trying to force through change to terms and conditions, refusing to negotiate or go to ACAS. Shelter stewards want to encourage NHHT UNISON members to be strong and united. Shelter UNITE members' experience was that strike action brought management back to the table and won concessions, even if it did not get them everything they had wanted. Members were fearful of going on strike and losing pay etc, but it was important to go in hard at the begining. This is what brought management back to the negotiations.

Elizabeth O'Hara on behalf of Shelter Stewards

As secretary of the Voluntary Organisations branch, I am writing to
offer my full support to all UNISON members at Notting Hill Housing
Trust in your battle to defend decent working terms and conditions. It's
quite clear that the trust can afford to maintain your terms and
conditions, and that this is a politically motivated attack on staff as
part of an agenda that seeks to undermine social housing. In standing up
for yourselves, you are also standing up for everyone else in the
community and voluntary sector who is likely to be a target of similar
attacks. If there is anything that our branch can practically do to aid
your dispute, do please let me know.

In solidarity,

Charlie Hore, Secretary Voluntary Organisations Branch


Please pass on solidarity greetings to all your members. We will raise
your dispute at our next branch executive meeting. Please keep us posted
and good luck in your fight to defend members terms and conditions.

Best wishes

John Burgess, BranchSecretary, Barnet UNISON

Dear Colleagues,

I read with considerable concern information about the attack by Notting
Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) management on employees' terms and conditions.
Clearly, historic gains, particularly for women workers, are under threat
in a further indication of the extent to which social landlords are
behaving more and more like private sector employers. Perhaps this is none
too surprising, given the very high salaries (nearly £166,000!) now
enjoyed by senior figures in the organisation such as Kate Davies.

I wish you the best of luck in your ongoing dispute with NHHT and in the
event that the membership pursues industrial action please do contact the
Camden branch for financial support, invites to speakers, etc.

Yours in solidarity,
George Binette, Camden UNISON Branch Secretary



Following a meeting on Thursday 4th March UNISON members at Wandle Housing Association voted unanimously in favour of offering colleagues at Notting Hill Housing their full support in this time of difficulty.

Members at Wandle are fortunate enough to enjoy constructive relations with their management and are dismayed to hear about the situation at Notting Hill. They understand how important it is for unions and management to enjoy honest dialogue and hope that the situation can be resolved in an agreeable manner.

The stance taken by management at Notting Hill appears to be completely at odds with the spirit of positive consultation that UNISON encourages across the sector and wider industry. The changes outlined target people who are amongst the most vulnerable within the workforce and the lack of adequate consultation or negotiation is not acceptable. It would seem that there is a very real gap between Notting Hill's aspirations as an employer and objective reality. They claim 'We think loving where you work is very important. It’s not just a catchy slogan for us.' but recent actions make a nonsense of this statement. Wandle members, if faced with a similar situation, would not hesitate in taking action and wish Notting Hill members well in their struggle. They understand that strike action is always a last resort and are shocked that fellow UNISON members within the housing sector have been forced into such an unfortunate position.

Members at Wandle feel it is imperative that they show their support at this time in order that Notting Hill staff know they are not alone. They offer their full support and sincerely hope that meaningful discussions take place as soon as possible.

Yours in solidarity

Wandle Union Members

Dear Colleagues,

As Chair of UNISON’s new national Community service group, I send my solidarity and best wishes to our members in Notting Hill Housing who are taking industrial action on Monday.

I know from my experiences in my own employer that UNISON members want to get on with their jobs, serving the communities in which they live and work. Strike action is the last thing you want. But you have clearly been driven to take this step by your employer’s refusal even to sit down and talk to you about their proposals, which will save them very little money and which seem to be simply an attack on trade union members.

All our members want is fair pay and conditions, and to be treated with dignity and respect by their employer.

The Community service group executive is fully behind you in your attempts to get Notting Hill to see reason and reach a fair deal with UNISON. We will do everything in our power to support you. Congratulations on taking a stand for fair treatment in your workplaces, and very best of luck.

Stephen Brown

CHAIR, UNISON Community Service Group

Dear All,


I would like to offer my full support and solidarity to UNISON members in Notting Hill Housing Trust who are taking strike action on Monday.

Our members in housing associations like Notting Hill work incredibly hard, often for inadequate reward, across the country to provide vital public services in our communities. Notting Hill’s treatment of its own workforce is scandalous – cutting family-friendly benefits which to you are vital, and which don’t cost the organisation much at all.

Notting Hill clearly don’t recognise the clear link between how they treat their staff and the quality of service they provide – or if they do recognise that link, they don’t appear to care about either their staff or their tenants.

Either way, all UNISON has asked for from the beginning has been to sit down with Notting Hill and try to reach an agreement that everyone can sign up to. They have refused all along.

So I salute our members in Notting Hill, who are taking a very brave step, standing up for what they think is right.

I wish you the best of luck.

Dave Prentis
UNISON General Secretary 

Unite members in Shelter send warm greetings to strikers at Notting Hill Housing Trust.

We are appalled to hear of the cuts that management are attempting to impose on staff at the Trust.
As you may know, Shelter union members also took strike action in Spring 2008. We had spent months attempting to negotiate with an intransigent management who were trying to cut our terms and conditions. This was at the same time as they increased senior management pay and completed a plush refurbishment of the head office. We found ourselves in a position where our management simply refused to negotiate with us and sought to impose the cuts. We were left with no option but to go on strike.
It was not a decision our members took lightly.  But it was the only way left to make management listen.  We took a day of strike action, followed by another day a few days later. This was to be followed by two more days but before we got that far, Shelter management approached us for talks.  When faced with picket lines outside Shelter offices around the country and messages of protest pouring in, refusal to negotiate was not a position Shelter management could maintain.
We learnt a lot during our dispute – most importantly that members need to stand firmly together.  In our union meetings, there were different views expressed as we worked out strategy and tactics. However, once we had taken a decision, we stood by it. This gave us strength. We also knew that we had to take action that would make us successful, not action that would be easiest  to take. This gave us the strength to coordinate multiple strike days in close succession, to maximise the pressure on management.
As Unison members in Notting Hill Housing Trust take strike action today, Unite members in Shelter send you our support and are here to help you in any way we can.

In solidarity,
Unite Stewards at Shelter

I am writing to express my full support for UNISON members compelled to take strike action today in opposition to the imposition of detrimental changes to their conditions of employment.

I was shocked to learn of the imposed cuts to staff terms and conditions at Notting Hill Housing Trust.  The Trust has previously had a reputation for being a more enlightened employer but this is now changing.  Reductions to flexi-time and carers’ leave will have greatest effect on female staff with caring responsibilities making NHHT a family unfriendly employer.

Further reductions to terms and conditions affecting salary protection and relocation allowances are cynically timed – given potential changes to job roles and the location of your main office from 2010.

Secure, affordable housing in the not-for profit sector is more important than ever.  In order to deliver an effective service to tenants, leaseholders and service-users staff morale must be maintained.  This will not be achieved through reductions in their work-life balance and real financial hardship.

The reputation of your organisation amongst public service workers across London and throughout the country will continue to be damaged until you take positive steps to resolve this dispute.

Best wishes,

Jon Rogers
UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) member
Greater London Region