Unite gives ‘cautious welcome’ to new RSPCA boss

Unite gives ‘cautious welcome’ to new RSPCA boss

04 April 2016

Unite, the country’s largest union, has given the new chief executive at the RSPCA, the troubled animal welfare charity, ‘a cautious welcome’.

The union, which represents more than half the 1,600-strong workforce, said that it wanted to work with Jeremy Cooper, who takes up his post today (Monday 4 April), ‘to open a new chapter of constructive dialogue’ to strengthen the leadership of the world’s oldest animal welfare organisation.

Unite recently welcomed the external review of the RSPCA governance set-up, as it had been two years without a chief executive, causing the organisation to suffer from strategic drift.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “There is no doubt that the RSPCA has gone through a turbulent period, with staff having to suffer two major restructurings in the last five years. 

“The past two years without a chief executive has led to disorganisation and an absence of leadership, mostly because of the poor quality of governance. 

“Constant attacks by certain sections of the media have not helped, which has led to a decrease in morale amongst staff whose main concern has always been the welfare of animals.

“So the appointment of Jeremy Cooper is seen by Unite members as an opportunity to address the current situation and to open a new chapter of constructive dialogue.

“Our members don’t underestimate the problems ahead as the economic climate remains uncertain, the governance of the society needs urgent review and the abuse of animals, unfortunately, continues.

“Unite looks forward to working with Jeremy to strengthen the leadership of the charity and to restore the morale of its members so the RSPCA is in the best possible place to perform its main objective – to prevent cruelty to animals.”

Jeremy Cooper has moved from his current position as the society’s director of corporate development, a position he took up in January. Previously, he spent three years as chief executive of RSPCA Assured, the RSPCA’s ethical food label.
Unite said that a survey earlier this year revealed that 43 per cent of its members believed that the governance was ‘ineffective and poor’ with only four per cent satisfied with the current set-up. The RSPCA investigates an average of 150,000 cruelty complaints annually.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.