- This story has been clarified, please see final paragraph
Staff at Action for Children have indicated they would be prepared to strike in a dispute over pay.
The organisation, which changed its name from NCH in 2008, is one of the biggest charities in the country. It employs about 4,000 staff and its income was £195m in 2009/10.
Members of the unions Unite and Unison at the charity were asked to vote yes or no to the statement "I am in favour of industrial action in response to management’s proposed pay freeze and would vote yes in a final ballot".
Richard Munn, regional officer at Unite, said about half of the charity’s staff were members of either Unite or Unison. About 80 per cent of those from his union that responded indicated support for strike action, he said, but would not say how many of them participated in the ballot.
Mike Short, a national officer at Unison, told Third Sector that 79 per cent of Unison members who responded voted yes.
He said several hundred employees had voted, but he was unable to provide a more precise figure.
Short said the charity had initially proposed a pay freeze for all staff except for senior management and, after talks with the unions, had offered a small pay rise. The rise, he said, was "nowhere near enough to put to our members as a proposal. We have told the charity that we are now minded to initiate a final strike ballot."
If the union started formal strike proceedings now, said Short, the strikes could go ahead this autumn.
Action for Children issued a statement that said: "Our overriding concern will always be to provide the best possible services to the vulnerable and neglected children and young people who rely on us.
"We are in ongoing negotiation with our union partners and will continue our commitment to supporting all our staff as we move forward."
- Action for Children said that the pay freeze that was initially proposed applied to all staff and did not exclude senior management.