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East End-based charity chief exec accused of "sycophantic jaunt" with royal couple while proposing job cuts

PUBLISHED: 12:04 08 August 2011

Centrepoint Chief Executive Seyi Obakin sits with Prince William and Kate at the Inner City Arts academy in Los Angeles

Centrepoint Chief Executive Seyi Obakin sits with Prince William and Kate at the Inner City Arts academy in Los Angeles

Archant

An East End-based homeless charity is accused of getting its priorities wrong after its chief executive joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a trip to America while proposing job cuts.

Centrepoint, which runs hostels for young people across London and has its headquarters in Aldgate, has come under fire over its plans to slash wages by up to £10,000 a year and cut dozens of jobs.

Workers’ union Unite has now accused chief executive Seyi Obakin of taking an “unnecessary sycophantic jaunt” with Prince William and kate on the Los Angeles leg of their North American trip last month.

Prince William has been a patron of the charity - which runs 24 hostels for young people across the capital - since 2005.

Centrepoint staff are now threatening to strike over the cutbacks, which they say will affect more than 100 workers.

Unite regional officer, Matt Smith, said: “While frontline staff were trying to bargain for a fairer deal, Mr Obakin has been busy ingratiating himself as a member of William and Kate’s Los Angeles entourage.”

According to Unite, the charity - based in Camperdown Street - pays six of its senior executives more than £60,000 a year but is proposing to slash frontline staff’s wages by more than a third.

Union members are to be balloted later this month after an initial poll showed overwhelming support for strike action.

Centrepoint insisted it has engaged in “full and meaningful consultation” with the union over the changes.

A spokeswoman said: “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.”

Unite have had access to the charity’s accounts but have not given any “constructive counter proposals”, the charity said.

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