Staff picket Notting Hill headquarters
Trade union members at Notting Hill Housing group went on strike on Monday over changes to their terms and conditions.
Members of Unison picketed the housing association’s Hammersmith headquarters over the changes which include abolition of carers’ leave, changing flexitime to flexible working, and reduction in the duration of relocation allowances and redeployment salary protection.
The changes came into effect from this month.
The picket line, which had about 20 people on it when Inside Housing visited, attracted hoots of support from passing drivers.
Unison said there were 100 people on the picket line at peak time. Notting Hill said 122 people went on strike.
The strike was the first for 15 years by housing association members of Unison in London.
The association said it will increase annual leave to 30 days, and introduce time off in-lieu, which it said would help balance the changes to carers’ leave and flexitime.
A spokesperson said: ‘The joint consultative and negotiating committee [of members from Notting Hill and Unison] has been discussing and negotiating the new terms and conditions since July 2009. Part of this negotiation was the withdrawal of the proposal to increase the working week to 37 hours and the decision to remain on a 35 hour working week.
‘We have conducted an equality impact assessment to ascertain whether or not the proposed changes would discriminate against any staff group and we have found this not to be the case.’
She said Notting Hill could not afford such generous redeployment and relocation policies in the current economic climate.
She added: ‘Notting Hill has brilliant staff who want to do a great job. The change programme is about redesigning our systems and processes so that our residents can really benefit. The review of terms and conditions is part of this process.’
One striker said: ‘I am a carer so that is a massive part of it. For me more than anything it is about the lack of consideration, the lack of respect. They do not care that they are alienating staff.’
Another said: ‘It will discourage people from going the extra mile.’
Staff member Rebecca Gates said: ‘I have worked here for a long time. It used to be great place to work but at the moment staff are feeling demoralised. I have never seen anything like this before.’
Colin Inniss, regional organiser for Unison, said: ‘It was a fantastic turnout. I do not see how management can say staff are happy with these changes to terms and conditions because quite obviously they are not. All they [Notting Hill] have to do is talk.’