Amnesty International threatened with industrial action over redundancies

The charity is proposing 94 job losses amid a financial crisis, but Unite wants to see that number reduced

Amnesty International has been threatened with industrial action by the trade union Unite if it does not reduce its redundancy programme.

Earlier this year, Amnesty’s international secretariat announced a planned 94 redundancies at the charity.

There are 755 jobs at the charity, according to the union, and reports when the redundancies were announced said the decision was taken because the organisation faced an expected £17m shortfall in its budget to the end of 2020.

Ahead of Amnesty’s global assembly, which is being held today in Johannesburg, South Africa, Unite said that the redundancies should be scaled back or risk drastically limiting the organisation’s ability to deliver human rights work.

Unite said it was concerned that the only option put forward by the senior management to reduce the number of jobs lost was a voluntary freeze on a cost-of-living pay increase that staff are due to receive.

The union has therefore said it will consider all potential options to reduce the redundancy programme, including industrial action.

The dispute about redundancies comes after a difficult year for Amnesty in which it was heavily criticised for its "toxic" workplace culture in an independent report published after the suicides of two members of staff.

Five members of its seven-strong leadership team are also being made redundant by the charity and will leave the organisation in October.

Alan Scott, regional coordinating officer at Unite, said: "The handling of the present financial crisis has shown that little has been learned from Amnesty International’s recent tragic past.

"The meeting of the global assembly is the critical opportunity for some soul searching on the part of senior management and to bring accountability into the organisation.

"There is more than one possible solution to rebuilding the secretariat’s budget – it does not have to be all at the expense of staff.

"It is high time that senior management came back to the table with proposals that go beyond cutting staff salaries or making voluntary redundancies."

A statement from Amnesty said: "Even though membership and funding of Amnesty is increasing worldwide, the international secretariat will unfortunately have to cut its expenditure, while ensuring future priorities.

"We are working closely with staff and the union to find a solution, though we deeply regret that there will be redundancies. This is a painful and difficult decision and we will do everything in our power to support affected staff."

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