Amnesty International staff to strike over cost-cutting programme

Forty Unite members will take action tomorrow, arguing that the cuts will hinder the organisation's human rights work

Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International UK

About 40 Amnesty International UK workers plan to go on strike tomorrow in a dispute over cost savings.

Employees of the human rights organisation, which has about 200 UK staff, will be taking 24-hour strike action on Wednesday for the first time in more than 20 years to protest against what the union Unite labelled "an ill-conceived cost-cutting programme".

Union members argue that the organisation’s human rights work will be hindered by financial cuts, which are being made so that AIUK can contribute more money to its international headquarters over the next 10 years with a view to expanding the organisation globally.

Unite said its members did not object to the increased contributions, but they were unhappy that this would result in redundancies in a branch that they argue has posted 2 per cent year-on-year financial growth and despite a pay freeze agreed by staff.

Alan Scott, regional officer at Unite, said he was not sure how many jobs would be lost but said the number was significant.

"Our members will be striking on Wednesday because they have serious concerns that the cuts proposed by the senior management of AIUK are threatening its future," he said. "They have signed up to an unsustainable process that is, frankly, untenable and shoots Amnesty’s growth in the foot.

"The amount that Amnesty UK gives must correlate to the rateat which it grows. Anything else is short term, un-strategic and risks financial ruin. Making redundancies when there is no financial crisis is at best misguided. We urge management to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the union."

A spokesman for Amnesty said it regretted that staff felt the need to go on strike, particularly given that the action was over how much money the organisation contributed to increasing human rights work, an amount it could not and would not want to change, he said.

"The highest decision-making body of the Amnesty movement, the International Council Meeting, made decisions on how much national sections like AIUK should contribute and how quickly this should rise to increase Amnesty’s work in the global south," he said. "The board of AIUK will abide by ICM decisions.

"Industrial action will not change this, but we will remain in contact with union officials on this matter and on other substantive questions raised in the process of reducing costs at AIUK. We have been and will continue to work to keep redundancies to a minimum."

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