Over one-third of Amnesty UK staff are expected to go on strike tomorrow in protest at cost-cutting measures they claim are “threatening the organisation’s future”.
The cost-cutting programme, which includes redundancies, has been implemented because of an increase in financial contribution from the UK section to its global organisation to expand its work in the global south.
According to the organisation’s website it has about 130 staff at offices in London, Belfast and Edinburgh. Up to 40 are expected to strike tomorrow.
A one-day strike was voted for by roughly 80 per cent of the UK charity’s members of the trade union, Unite. It is the first time that staff have decided to strike in more than 20 years and they will be picketing the London office.
A statement issued by the Amnesty International members of Unite said: “Amnesty International is a great organisation that does vital and important work. We strike with a heavy heart and after long negotiations because we have serious concerns that the financial cuts proposed by senior management are threatening the organisation’s future.
“We fully support Amnesty’s growth in the global south and the need to invest in growth, but it also makes no financial sense to make wide-ranging cuts to a thriving branch of the organisation.”
It adds that: “Our senior management is undermining our members’ hard work by acting in a way that will affect Amnesty’s ability to grow in the long term and campaign for human rights change.”
Amnesty International UK’s media director Mike Blakemore told civilsociety.co.uk that: “We entirely respect the right of staff to take industrial action but regret the fact that they felt the need to do so.”
He explained that the UK section’s contribution towards work in the global south "is something we cannot and would not want to change" because "the decision on how much national sections contribute, and how quickly, is taken by the independent international council of Amnesty International".
Blakemore added that the amount national sections contribute to international movement is increasing gradually from 30 per cent to 40 per cent over the next ten years, and that “we secured a slowing down of the change from over six years to over 10 years”.