Unite members angry at “short term unstrategic” plans that risk financial ruin

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Employees of Amnesty International UK are today taking strike action to protest against the refusal of the organisation’s senior management to enter into meaningful negotiations over an ill-conceived cost cutting programme, including a significant number of redundancies.

Staff fear that international human rights work will be hindered by the financial cuts being proposed by the senior management and board of Amnesty International UK.  Amnesty UK is not facing a financial crisis and continues to grow financially, yet the organisation needs to save £2.5million in order to balance next year’s budget.

These swingeing financial cuts are due to the speed at which senior management intends to increase contributions to Amnesty’s international headquarters and despite staff agreeing to a pay freeze.  Amnesty International UK is one of the best performing branches of the entire organisation.  As well as delivering high profile and successful human rights’ campaigns, the branch has posted 2% year on year growth, in spite of the global recession.

Union members do not object to increasing contributions to the global Amnesty movement in order to extend the organisations reach and influence in the global South, but they do object to the decision to increase that amount at such a speed that it not only impacts on their human rights work, but must also lead to redundancies.

A statement from Amnesty International UK members of Unite said: “Amnesty UK is a great organisation that does vital and important work.  We strike with a heavy heart and after long negotiations because we have serious concerns that the financial cuts proposed by senior management are threatening the organisation’s future.

“We fully support Amnesty’s growth in the global South and the need to invest in that growth, but it makes no financial sense to make wide ranging cuts to a thriving branch of the organisation.

“Failure to invest in a successful Amnesty section doesn’t just let down Amnesty UK’s hard working staff, it lets down the dedicated members who invest through their annual subscriptions, donations and activism.

“Our senior management is undermining our members’ hard work by acting in a way that will affect Amnesty’s ability to grow in the long term and campaign for human rights change.”

Unite regional officer Alan Scott said: “Our members will be striking on Wednesday because they have serious concerns that the cuts proposed by the senior management of Amnesty International UK are threatening its future. They have signed up to an unsustainable process which is, frankly, untenable and shoots Amnesty’s growth in the foot.

“The amount which Amnesty UK gives must correlate to the amount at which it grows. Anything else is short term, un-strategic and risks financial ruin. Making redundancies when there is no financial crisis is at best misguided. We urge management to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the union.”

 


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