RSPCA staff have voted to go on strike over a dispute with management over new contracts.
Unite, the trade union recognised by the charity, said staff voted by 73 per cent for strike action and accused the charity’s management of a “bullying attitude”.
The RSPCA denied bullying. It also said that it was disappointed but that it needed to make savings to protect the charity’s future in the long-term.
Unite said strike dates will be announced soon but offered to hold “last-ditch talks” through conciliation service Acas.
The RSPCA said it was considering the offer.
‘Contracts are very detrimental’
The Union said that under the proposals staff allowances, especially for standby payments, will be reduced.
It said that an inspector could experience a salary reduction of between £2,000 and £4,000.
Jesika Parmar, Unite regional officer, said: “Our members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in protest at the arbitrary imposition of new ‘performance pay’ contracts without a proper consultation process. These new contracts are very detrimental to our members.
“Certain members of the management team have adopted a bullying attitude to staff in a bid to get them to sign the new contract before the deadline of 31 March – such behaviour is deplorable.
“We will be announcing strike dates in the near future – but we urge the management to take up our offer of Acas-brokered talks to avert industrial action.
“Unite would like to make crystal clear to the public that so generously fund the RSPCA that our members will be making the welfare and care of animals their top priority during the industrial action.”
RSPCA: ‘We want to protect jobs and secure a long-term future’
The RSPCA said that those voting for strike action represented a minority of its workforce and said most staff had already signed the new contracts.
In a statement, it said: “We are disappointed that a minority of union members have voted to strike - 300 supported industrial action, which is less than half the membership of the union in a workforce of 1,700. We respect their right to take industrial action but we are encouraged that three-quarters of employees have already signed their new contracts.
“The change to our pay and reward framework is just one of a series of initiatives designed so we can protect jobs and services moving forward, and has been taken out of necessity, not choice. We simply cannot afford to continue running a large deficit which places the long-term viability of our organisation and the vital animal welfare services at risk.”
RSPCA’s latest available accounts, for the year to December 2018, show that the charity had an income of £142m but expenditure of nearly £160m.
The charity statement goes on to deny the union’s allegation that staff had been bullied.
“We absolutely refute allegations that staff have been bullied throughout this process and we utterly reject the depiction of our charity by the union,” it said. “Our staff are our most valuable asset and we are all united by our dedication to animal welfare. We have been open and transparent at all times and have been holding individual meetings with staff who wish to discuss the contract and these have been conducted in a sensitive, caring and professional manner.
“We have been reassured by the union that the action will not impact on animal welfare and we have put contingency measures in place to ensure we do our best for animals during this period.”