Nearly 30 Addaction staff in Leigh and Wigan have gone on strike today over a pay dispute with the charity, the day after it launched its new website.
Last month, Addaction announced its plans to rebrand as We Are With You, a name that was considered more inclusive and less judgmental towards the charity's beneficiaries.
The rebranding costed the charity £140,000, which the Unison trade union says has angered the workers and would be sufficient to covering the costs of resolving the dispute.
The charity says that it has made a “fair and sustainable” financial offer to the workers, which has been rejected, and that the cost of the rebrand was just a fraction of its overall budget.
‘Staff are demoralised’
The workers were gradually moved from the NHS to the charity between 2007 and 2018, and Unison says the charity broke its promise to ensure their pay was kept at same levels as those of NHS employees doing similar jobs. This is because they are not being granted the three-year pay rise given to NHS workers after April 2018.
Workers went on strike for 11 days between August and November last year and are now returning to strike from today until Wednesday 4 March.
Unison said that “the implementation of the three-year NHS pay rise from April 2018 would cost Addaction just under £4,100 a worker, totalling around £123,000".
In Autumn 2019, Unison also published a staff survey on services in Wigan and Leigh, highlighting concerns over shortage of staff and quality of services. Seventy per cent of the 30 respondents said they would not be happy with the standard of care provided by the organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment.
Paddy Cleary, Unison North West regional organiser, 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 rates 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.”
We Are With You to raise all staff pay by 2 per cent
A We Are With You spokesperson said: “We are proud of our service in Wigan. It is a warm, non-judgemental space which helps people to make healthier choices. Anyone can walk in and will be seen by a member of staff on the same day, with the latest Care Quality Commission report giving the service a rating of ‘Good’.”
They said the rebranding was done consulting both staff and people who use the services and that “this research has shown that building a warmer, more personal brand will enable us to help more people overcome the barriers to accessing support”.
They also said that “the cost of the rebrand is a very small portion of our overall budget, with no local service being impacted by it.”
For the year ending 31 March 2019, the charity reported an income of £67.2m, down from £72.4m the previous year. The £140,000 rebranding costs represent about 0.2 per cent of it.
On the pay dispute, the charity’s spokeperson said: “We have listened to and understood our staff’s concerns in Wigan and made a new financial offer which we think is fair and sustainable. We are clearly disappointed the majority of staff have rejected this and further action is going ahead.
“Separately, we are awarding all staff across the whole charity a 2 per cent salary increase in the next financial year. This is true for all our services, from Cornwall to Wigan, to the north of Scotland.
“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.”