Union members at Action for Children are considering strike action following an eight-month dispute over pay and what unions claim is an “attack on conditions”.
More than 1,000 members of staff at the charity who are either members of Unison or Unite are being balloted this month over whether to resort to strike action after the breakdown of long-running negotiations over working conditions and a pay freeze.
The unions are particularly concerned about the overall changes to working terms and conditions, with the charity reportedly reviewing changes to its redundancy policy that could see a drop in pay protection for staff redeployed to lower-paid roles. The pay freeze during a time of inflation is also a contentious issue.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Action for Children has refused to respond to our concerns over the past eight months. Industrial action is a last resort, but the only way to convince the charity that staff deserve a fair pay rise.”
Mike Robinson, Unite national officer for children’s charities, said that the charity is paying below standard rates. “Their pay is low, compared with the average support worker, with many earning on average £20,000 a year, and many domestic and admin staff are on between £11,000 and £18,000. Their pay is not keeping pace with inflation and that’s putting our members into further financial hardship.”
Action for Children: 'Difficult economic climate'
Action for Children, however, said that it valued its staff and was committed to negotiations.
“In common with all charities at this time, we are currently operating in a very difficult economic climate and need to be realistic about the challenges we face,” said the charity’s executive director of human resources, Richard Cove. “Our priority is to continue to deliver services for the most vulnerable children and young people we work with.
“We have been regularly meeting with union partners to try a reach a suitable solution for all parties. Whilst it is regrettable that they have felt it necessary to ballot for strike action at this difficult time, we remain committed to actively negotiating to reach the best possible outcome.”