Union to ballot members over industrial action at Amnesty International

Unite is unhappy that 20 roles have been earmarked for redundancy by the organisation

(Photograph: Richard Levine/Alamy)
(Photograph: Richard Levine/Alamy)

The trade union Unite is to ballot its more than 300 members at Amnesty International about industrial action after Amnesty’s decision to make up to 20 members of staff redundant.

The move came as Amnesty announced the number of redundancies needed as part of cost-cutting measures to address a £17m shortfall in its budget to the end of 2020.

The original consultation paper on how the organisation would address the shortfall, which was published in June, indicated that as many as 146 roles might disappear, including 95 redundancies.

But Amnesty announced yesterday that it had reduced the number of redundancies to a maximum of 20 and was hoping the number would fall further through redeployment opportunities.

Despite the reduction in the number of redundancies at Amnesty, Unite said that it still planned to ballot its members about industrial action.

The union had previously warned the organisation that it would ballot its members for industrial action if Amnesty’s redundancy programme was not scaled back.

It is not yet known when the ballot will take place. 

Under the Trade Union Act 2016, strike ballots must be voted on by at least 50 per cent of those eligible to vote and produce a majority in favour of strike action to be legally valid.

Unite has more than 300 members at Amnesty, which has about 755 employees overall.

A statement from Unite said: "Unite members still intend to ballot for industrial action over the planned redundancies at Amnesty.

"The final preparations on what is a complicated and convoluted process in order to hold a formal ballot are currently being made."

An Amnesty spokeswoman said: "We fully recognise and support Amnesty International employees’ right to strike."

The news 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 organisation and will leave the organisation in October.

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