Hundreds of human rights workers at Amnesty International are taking unprecedented strike action in separate disputes over job losses


Hundreds of human rights workers at Amnesty International are taking unprecedented strike action in separate disputes over job losses.

Staff at the organisation’s UK arm have already taken three days of strike action.

Now, for the first time in its 50 year history, workers at the International Secretariat will also be out on strike alongside their colleagues.

Members at the International Secretariat are involved in a dispute arising from plans to disperse staff from the London office to new regional ‘hubs’ in Kenya, South Africa, Thailand and China.

Earlier this month, management called a halt to negotiations on a redundancy policy aimed at covering those staff who were unable to move to one of the regional hubs.

Unite says managers have threatened to impose new contracts incorporating weaker redundancy terms before implementing a proposal which officials say could see scores of staff being made redundant.

The union has called on the Secretariat to withdraw the threat – Unite says to no avail.

Insiders say a new crisis was triggered last week after the resignation of a regional programme director – citing failure of leadership and the treatment of staff.

Union members then passed a vote of no confidence in the secretary general, Salil Shetty and the senior leadership team, calling 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. Today’s action is the third strike in two months.

The strikers have secured the support of the TUC’s international department.

The two disputes are distinct, but Unite officials say separate management decisions will result in job losses which staff fear will undermine the key human rights work done by both parts of the organisation.

Total cuts of £2.5m are being implemented at AIUK, despite steady annual growth of 2% and assurances the organisation is not in financial crisis.

Critics blame the cuts on the speed at which senior management intends to increase contributions to Amnesty’s international headquarters and despite staff agreeing to a pay freeze.

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.”

The strikers are organising a joint rally which is expected to take place this lunchtime.

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