Homeless charity Centrepoint hires expensive law firm to stop ballot rather than address low pay


Unite members are to re-ballot for industrial action at Centrepoint after the first ballot was stopped on legal technicalities.

Last month, workers at Centrepoint, whose patron is Prince William, voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute which could see staff losing thousands of pounds a year in pay, although senior executives will have their pay ring-fenced from cuts.

But after management called in international law firm Eversheds, the action was halted on the legal technicalities contained in the UK’s tough industrial relations legislation.

The move by Centrepoint to spend the charity’s money on employing expensive lawyers to fight the ballot procedure rather than address the issue of pay, is a warning to unions balloting for November 30th of the legal minefield ahead.

Unite regional officer Matt Smith said: “Instead of adopting the path of conciliation and compromise, Centrepoint, even though pleading poverty, has managed to hire one of the largest and richest law firms to threaten us with a costly injunction.

“Managers have denied our reps the opportunity to use notice boards to inform the employees of the strike, while, at the same time, used information taken from our private correspondence to our members to enable them to threaten us with an injunction.”

Unite will now re-ballot its members from 26 October until 3 November. And if the members vote again in favour of strike action, strike days could commence from 10 November.

Unite has consistently urged Centrepoint to work with the conciliation service, Acas to find a resolution to the dispute.

Matt Smith said: “This is money that could have been used to resolve this dispute. The majority of our members affected are even more determined to vote ‘yes’ because of the management’s heavy handed attitude.”

Last month, Unite’s members voted by 70 per cent to 30 per cent for strike action at the charity, which looks after homeless young people. Unite have said that more than 100 staff have been singled out to face severe wage cuts, demotion and redundancy.

The charity’s patron is Prince William and Centrepoint hit the headlines in the summer when its chief executive Seyi Obakin left the pay negotiations to join Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to America. Unite described Mr Obakin’s trip as ‘an unnecessary sycophantic jaunt’.

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