Union plans to ask Prince William for cash to prevent pay and job cuts
Unite calls on duke to save Centrepoint staff
A trade union plans to ask the Duke of Cambridge for cash to prevent pay and job cuts at a homelessness charity he supports.
Trade union Unite, which represents 1.5 million workers, is considering approaching Prince William, who has been patron of Centrepoint since 2005, and the charity’s other heavyweight backers, such as law firm Forsters.
The union is also planning to ballot Centrepoint staff on industrial action over cuts to pay and conditions for more than 100 of the 121 posts in the organisation, plus up to 28 possible job losses, which it says the London-based charity is proposing.
Under a restructure at Centrepoint, some staff will be regraded, with the worst affected facing pay cuts of up to £10,000 a year, the union said.
Matt Smith, Unite’s regional officer, said: ‘This is about government cuts and we know why cuts are happening, but we think the way they are dealing with it is unfair.’
He said the cuts fell disproportionately on front line staff and would affect the quality of services provided by the charity.
Mr Smith added: ‘Our next stage is to go to him [the duke] and other backers to say, “our members are suffering financial detriment. Would you contribute so this won’t have to happen?”.’
The union will ballot its members at Centrepoint later this month. In a consultative ballot, carried out at the end of July, 48 of the 88 members voted to strike, while 10 were against it and the rest abstained.
Mr Smith said Centrepoint had pulled out of negotiations with the union and was now consulting staff individually.
A Centrepoint spokesperson said: ‘A number of inaccuracies regarding proposed changes to Centrepoint’s organisational structure have been made public. We can confirm that we are now consulting individual staff about these changes, but it would not be appropriate to discuss this in any more detail at this stage as our first priority is to our staff and the young people we support.
‘Like many other charities, we are responding to cuts in government funding, which is necessary to continue our commitment to delivering high-quality support to vulnerable young people.’
The charity had engaged in ‘full and meaningful’ consultation with Unite to ensure staff understood the need for the restructure, the spokesperson said. She added: ‘Unite has not provided any constructive counter proposals.’
Unite has asked whether Centrepoint paid for its chief executive Seyi Obakin to visit the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their trip to Los Angeles last month. Centrepoint refused to disclose the cost of the trip.
Mr Smith said of Mr Obakin’s visit: ‘At the best, this was insensitive; at worst, this smacks of being an unnecessary sycophantic jaunt for no apparent good reason.’
Centrepoint did not wish to comment in response to the criticism.