Dozens of employees face redundancy even as secretary general earns £193,000

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Human rights workers at Amnesty International’s global headquarters in London are today taking their third day’s strike action over redundancies.

The strike was sparked by the management’s unilateral withdrawal, without warning, of the redundancy policy just a couple of hours prior to releasing details of a restructure that will potentially make dozens of employees redundant.

Unite regional officer Alan Scott said: “While many appreciate cuts to staffing are inevitable, Amnesty management must stick to agreements they have signed and publicly stated they will honour in order to dispel the pervasive mistrust that has taken hold in the organisation.

“Dozens of staff face uncertainty about their immediate future. Many know that their posts will disappear before the end of 2012, but because management have torn up the redundancy policy, they have no idea of what will happen to them.”

Management’s action at the International Secretariat is the latest in a series of broken agreements and promises over union representation rights, pay and temporary staff over the past 12 months.

Alan Scott said: “Amnesty International cannot be an effective or credible human rights organisation if it does not respect the rights of its workers. The organisation’s senior management must adhere to the same standards it demands of governments and corporations globally.”

While dozens of redundancies are proposed among lower salaried workers, the number of senior directors – who each earn between around £88,000 and £107,000 per year – has increased from five to eight in the past 2 years. The Secretary General’s salary is £192,800, bringing the total estimated cost of the senior leadership team’s salaries to almost £1 million per year.

Alan Scott said: “Amnesty International’s authority has been established through decades of high-quality research which is used to underpin its campaigning and advocacy work. It is imperative that the organisation retains this integrity and is as consistent in its internal dealings as it is with the external world.”

Amnesty International is about to embark on a major restructure that will move its centralised global headquarters, currently mainly based in London, to 10 hubs around the globe and fundamentally change the way the organisation works.

“They’ve told us that dozens of us could lose our jobs, but we still support plans to make Amnesty more relevant and effective worldwide. All we’ve done is ask that they tell us how the changes proposed will make Amnesty work better, show us they have a clear plan and treat staff with a bit of respect as we move or leave. So far they’ve completely failed on all three counts,” said a staff member.

“Events in recent months call into question the integrity of those now leading Amnesty International and this is deeply distressing to everyone who works here. It is with a heavy heart that we voted to strike,” said a staff member.

 


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