RSPCA staff to hold consultative ballot on industrial action in pay row

20 Nov 2019 News

RSPCA staff who are members of the Unite trade union are being asked if they want to take industrial action in a dispute over pay and new contracts.

They will be sent voting papers in a consultative ballot designed to “test the temperature” on whether to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot. Voting closes on Thursday 5 December.

Unite has said the dispute is largely surrounding management’s proposals to abandon an incremental pay scheme with a performance pay arrangement. It said this could “exacerbate plummeting staff morale in an organisation where bullying has been endemic”.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmer said: “Negotiations between Unite and the management over the new pay framework proposals have broken down. These plans will have serious financial implications for our members.

“The new contracts will mean that it will be easier to sack our members which is totally unacceptable - and this move is coming against a background of a culture of bullying at the RSPCA”.

Unite said that under the proposals, staff allowances, especially standby payments, will be reduced by 50 per cent. It said an inspector will see an annual average reduction in their salary of at least £2,000 and potentially as high as £4,000.

RSPCA: 'Employees have been reassured that current base pay is not affected'

The RSPCA has previously been accused of trying to erode pay and conditions for staff. At the time the charity said: “Staff have been reassured that their base pay will not be impacted by the review. We are proposing that future pay increases should be based on affordability for the Society, linked to appropriate market pay and to recognise the contribution of employees.

“It is unlikely that any performance related pay will be in place for all employees before April 2022.”

In response to the union asking staff if they want to take industrial action in a dispute over pay and new contracts, the charity said: “Throughout this process employees have been reassured that current base pay is not affected and the proposals regarding allowances and increments will replace a framework which is simply not financially sustainable. 

“We have listened closely to feedback from the union and staff, the majority of whom are not represented by the union, and have made a number of changes based on this.The Society has consistently stressed that it has no intention of making any changes to employee policies such as sick pay going forward.”

Although the charity had denied that current base pay will be affected, Unite said frontline staff would be affected by changes.

Parmer said: “The management makes a great deal of the organisation’s financial difficulties and there are currently a number of major infrastructure projects which are millions of pounds over budget.

“However, it is simply not acceptable that front line staff bear the financial pain for catastrophic mistakes made by senior project managers. According to the society’s own data, the number of senior managers has doubled since 2014 to a total of 37 and yet the debt has grown.

“Our members are now being asked in a consultative ballot if they wish to go to the next stage of a full-scale industrial action ballot. However, there is a window of opportunity for the management to row back and enter into constructive negotiations with Unite.”

Several other large charities have also recently faced the possibility of staff strikes, including Addaction, St Mungo's and Amnesty International

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