Employees of Equinox Care, the drug and alcohol services charity, have staged a protest outside its offices in London as part of a dispute over proposed pay cuts of up to 25 per cent.
About 25 of the charity’s 70 Unite members took part. The union claims that front-line staff at the charity, which employs 120 people, face pay cuts of between £4,000 and £6,000 a year.
The union says its members are also angry that the charity’s chief executive will receive a performance-related pay bonus at the same time as the proposed cuts are made.
"Staff can be excused for believing that this performance bonus will be earned as a result of drastically reducing their wages," said Jamie Major, Unite’s regional officer. "This smacks of blatant hypocrisy."
Unite said it was still in negotiation with management, which was still proposing pay cuts of 3 per cent. The union said that it might ballot members on strike action later this month.
Bill Puddicombe, chief executive of Equinox Care, told Third Sector that the charity had looked at the market for people doing similar jobs and decided to reduce pay levels to get them more in line with other providers.
"It is true that salaries for some posts could be cut by more than 20 per cent," he said. "But staff will receive transitional relief, and there will be no pay cuts of more than 10 per cent during the first year. Unite does not appear to understand the reality of the situation, which is that without these proposed cuts the charity will go out of business."
The charity said that 18 of its lowest-paid staff would actually receive pay increases of between 10 and 25 per cent if the proposals went ahead.
Puddicombe said he had received a performance bonus based on growing the charity but the board had cut his pay by 6 per cent six months before the proposed implementation of staff pay cuts.