Hundreds of staff members of Amnesty International UK (AIUK) and at Amnesty International’s global headquarters will be taking industrial action on Tuesday (20 November) in separate disputes over job losses.
In a unique situation in Amnesty International’s 51-year-old history, about 300 members of Unite working at the International Secretariat and 145 members at AIUK will be striking for 24 hours.
Members at the International Secretariat are involved in a dispute that centres on management’s repeated failures to honour agreements.
This escalated earlier this month when management called a halt to negotiations on a new redundancy policy and threatened to impose new contracts incorporating new, weaker redundancy terms before implementing a proposal to make scores of staff members redundant.
The union has called on management to remove the threat, come back to the table and reach agreement, but so far to no avail.
On Tuesday 13 November, after yet another regional programme director resigned - citing failure of leadership and the treatment of staff - union members at the International Secretariat passed a vote of no confidence in the secretary general, Salil Shetty, and the senior leadership team and called on them to stand down.
At AIUK, Amnesty local groups and members are calling for an extraordinary general meeting to debate the crisis that could see up to 40 job losses. Unite members at AIUK have already called for the resignation of the AIUK director, Kate Allen. The strike action on 20 November will be the third in the past two months for AIUK staff.
While the disputes are distinct, they involve separate management decisions which will result in job losses and which Unite members fear will undermine the vital work done by both parts of the organisation.
Total cuts of £2.5 million are being implemented at AIUK, despite the UK section's steady annual growth of two per cent and assurances the organisation is not in financial crisis.
These swingeing financial cuts are due to the speed at which senior management intends to increase contributions to Amnesty’s international headquarters – the International Secretariat - and despite staff agreeing to a pay freeze.
Meanwhile, the International Secretariat is undertaking restructuring that will move its centralised global headquarters, currently overseen from London, to about 10 hubs around the globe. As a result, dozens of employees face redundancy.
Unite regional officer, Alan Scott said: “Uniquely, these two separate disputes within the Amnesty ‘family’ have converged and are linked by poor management decisions.
“Our highly dedicated members at both the AIUK and the International Secretariat are very reluctantly taking industrial action again. They want their respective managements to engage in a constructive dialogue to chart a fair and equitable way forward.”
It is expected that the Unite members from AUIK and the International Secretariat will hold a joint rally in London on Tuesday, but the details for this have yet to be confirmed.
For further information, please contact Alan Scott on 07980 721 411 and/or Unite communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.