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NI charity staff set to strike

Workers employed by housing charity Shelter in Northern Ireland are to go on strike next week, it was announced today.

Members of the trade union Unite voted by 293 to four in a secret ballot to join a nationwide strike on Wednesday March 5 in a row over pay.

The union claimed management planned to scrap their pay and grading structure and force workers to sign new inferior employment contracts.

It said the strike action was being taken to secure a rethink by the Shelter management following months of fruitless negotiations over the issue.

"There has been an overwhelming vote for industrial action and that must send a clear message to Shelter managers that it's time to change track," said Unite regional industrial organiser Alan Scott.

Dedicated Shelter workers were legendary among homeless people across the UK and those who were affected by housing issues because they worked selflessly for justice and would always go the extra mile for those in need, he said.

But he added: "They can't live on dedication alone, they need to bring home a wage based on their union's employment agreements with Shelter, rather than have their contracts scrapped and replaced with inferior conditions."

Union members were saddened at being forced into strike action but "particularly concerned that some of our members feel that they are being intimidated into signing new, inferior terms and conditions," said Mr Scott.

The Shelter workers recognised the funding difficulties the charity was experiencing, said the union, but felt the planned solution disproportionate and they did not accept it was the only way forward.

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