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HCA staff vote to strike

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HCA staff vote to strike

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing

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Members of the union Unite working at the Homes and Communities Agency have voted for strike action over a pay allocation dispute.

The union says the action has come about because the agency has "consistently failed to negotiate in a meaningful way over this key issue".

68% of Unite members at the HCA voted for the industrial action.

However, in a statement, the HCA said: "Neither Unison or PCS have undertaken a ballot.  Unite is a very small union within the HCA. 41 people voted to take action, representing less than 5% of the agency’s total staff.  The HCA will ensure that there is minimal operational impact on the proposed three days of strike action.  The agency’s pay offer is in line with public sector pay policy."

Unite representative Suzanne Muna said: “It is unbelievable that the HCA has shown so little regard for its own staff. They won’t do anything to try to resolve this dispute, even though our members have rejected the offer three times now.

"Our members are getting increasingly desperate – trying to make ends meet, with rising costs year after year, but some will not get a single penny in pay increase – again!

"This has driven our members into a position where they feel they have absolutely no alternative but to go on strike. They don’t want to do it – they want the agency to listen to them and address their very real concerns, but all the agency has done is dismiss them.”

Unite says that the issue not about the size of the pay increase, acknowledging that the agency is subject to the government pay cap, but "how it is shared out across staff" and the "elements which are within the discretion of the HCA’s management to determine".

The union says that the award that staff are being offered for 2013/14 is identical to that for 2012/13, and was decisively rejected by members three times. This, it claims, would result in only around 70% of staff getting proper consolidated pay increases.

According to Unite, in 2012/13, whilst 31 people at the agency received "not a penny in additional pay", and 30% did not get a consolidated award, the HCA’s audited accounts show that the chair of the board got £87,0000 (p/t), and the chair of the regulation Committee received £65,000 (p/t).

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