Union criticises cost of Addaction rebrand amid strike over pay

The charity spent £140k to rebrand to We Are With You, but a strike started today in Leigh and Wigan because, the union claims, it broke a promise to increase former NHS workers' pay in line with other health service staff

The trade union Unison has criticised the cost of the recent rebrand by the drug and alcohol charity Addaction, amid a strike over pay at one of the charity’s services in Wigan.

The charity spent £140,000 to rebrand as We Are With You, which came into effect this week. The union claimed yesterday that the money should have been spent instead on increasing staff pay in line with the NHS.

Twenty-nine rehab staff in Leigh and Wigan started a five-day strike today in protest over the failure to keep an alleged promise from the charity to increase former NHS workers’ pay in line with other health service workers.

NHS workers received a 3 per cent pay increase this year, having had lower pay rises imposed by the government in recent years.

A spokesman for the charity said it had instead offered a 2 per cent pay rise for staff.

Unison said that the increased pay rise would cost the charity £123,000, £17,000 less than was spent on the rebrand.

We Are With You employees in the Wigan and Leigh services have already been on strike for 11 days in 2019. Unison said a ballot in January of the 29 staff working there returned 100 per cent support for more strikes to secure fair pay and address management failings.

It added that a recent staff survey highlighted concerns about We Are With You’s services, with the union saying that employees described the services as “dangerous” and waiting times as “atrocious”.

Paddy Cleary, north-west regional organiser at Unison, said: “The organisation may be changing its name to We Are With You, but for employees a more appropriate name is ‘We Won’t Pay You’.

“Staff are so demoralised by management’s refusal to pay them the NHS rate that they have no option but to take industrial action.

“To discover bosses are splashing out on a costly rebrand rather than paying them fairly is incredibly galling.

“Addaction can’t hide behind fancy rebranding. This issue isn’t going away. A change of name doesn’t change the fact that it must honour the promises made to staff.”

A spokesman for We Are With You said that the charity was proud of its service in Wigan, which had been rated as good by the Care Quality Commission.

“We have listened to and understood our staff’s concerns in Wigan and made a new financial offer that we think is fair and sustainable,” the spokesman said.

“We are clearly disappointed the majority of staff have rejected this and further action is going ahead.

“We are committed to finding a solution that is fair and sustainable for our staff, clients and the whole community, and will continue to work with our staff in Wigan and Leigh to achieve this.”

The spokesman added that the rebrand was vital to help the charity reach out to more potential beneficiaries, and it had not had a financial impact on services such as those in Wigan.

“For the past 18 months we have been talking to our staff and the people who use our services across the UK. This research has shown that building a warmer, more personal brand will enable us to help more people overcome the barriers to accessing support,” he said.

“When surveyed, three times as many people said they would choose We Are With You than Addaction. We hope this will help more people to start new chapters in their lives.

“The cost of the rebrand is a very small portion of our overall budget, with no local service being adversely affected by it.”

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