Amnesty International to cut almost 100 jobs

The organisation says it is facing a serious budget deficit because funding for the international secretariat has reduced despite a rise in the number of members

Amnesty: Unite considering options (Photograph: Alamy)
Amnesty: Unite considering options (Photograph: Alamy)

Almost 100 workers at Amnesty International face losing their jobs as part of a restructure to tackle a "serious budget deficit". 

The human-rights organisation, which is the London-based international secretariat for 50 national sections worldwide, said in a statement today that it expected to make up to 95 redundancies. 

Amnesty International, which has about 650 employees, said in April that it was expecting to cut jobs amid reports that it was planning a major change of direction to focus more on climate change.

Reports said the organisation was set to cut jobs in the face of an expected £17m shortfall in its budget to the end of 2020.

The news came in the wake of an independent report, published after the suicides of two members of staff, that criticised the organisation’s "toxic" workplace culture.

A review initiated by Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty, will lead to five of the charity’s seven top directors being made redundant by October, it emerged last week.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty said today: "Amnesty International is facing a serious budget deficit that must be urgently addressed. 

"Even though membership of Amnesty is increasing worldwide, funding for the international secretariat has reduced.

"Unfortunately, it will have to cut its expenditure, while at the same time ensuring future priorities. We can confirm that there will be up to 95 redundancies.

"This is a painful and difficult decision. We will now work closely with staff and the union over a formal three-month consultation period to look at the restructuring proposals.

"Every effort will be made to minimise job losses and we will do everything in our power to support affected staff."

The union Unite said the redundancies were a direct result of "overspending by the organisation’s senior leadership team, and its problems have occurred despite an increase in income".

It said Amnesty had proposed to cut 146 posts, some of which were vacant, affecting 93 members of staff. 

Alan Scott, regional coordinating officer at the union, said members would meet this week to decide how to respond to the announcement.

"All options are firmly on the table," he said.

"The organisation’s senior management have a made a dangerous habit of irresponsible overspending and over-scoping, leaving staff to suffer the costs, first with their wellbeing and now with their jobs.

"The problems of wellbeing and the financial crisis are symptoms of a leadership that continuously made decisions it could not afford, in terms of budget, workload and responsibility of care."

Final decisions on redundancies are expected on 9 September, the Amnesty spokeswoman said. 

"Amnesty International remains committed to the core work of campaigning and advocacy on evidence-based research into human-rights issues," she said.

"As a 60-year-old organisation, we have constantly evolved to respond to the challenges of our time. 

"We have fantastic talent in Amnesty International, and we are confident as we emerge from this difficult time that we will rise to meet the challenge and win the bigger battles before us."

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