The trade union Unite will announce strike dates for its RSPCA members by the weekend after yesterday’s Acas talks “broke down”.
Last month members of the union voted in favour of strike action over a dispute with management over new contracts and a new pay and reward framework. Unite said staff voted by 73 per cent for strike action and accused the charity’s management of a “bullying attitude”.
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.
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 union has said that under the proposals, staff allowances, especially for standby payments, will be reduced.
Unite has accused RSPCA of pressuring staff to sign contracts before the 31 March deadline.
A letter has been sent to staff setting out the next steps if staff choose not to sign contracts.
Unite union: ‘We urge the RSPCA to take the road of conciliation, and not confrontation’
Jesika Parmar, Unite regional officer, said: “We are very disappointed that talks yesterday with the RSPCA management broke down.
“The management barely moved during the day of Acas-brokered talks which, in retrospect, appears to have been a shallow manoeuvring tactic to run down the clock to the 31 March deadline for signing the new detrimental contracts by our members.
“As a result, we have no alternative but to announce strike dates by the weekend. These will be made public once the management has been informed.
“During the strike days, we want to reassure the public that give so generously to the charity that the welfare of the animals in our members’ care will be their top priority.
“Even at this eleventh hour, we urge the RSPCA to take the road of conciliation, and not confrontation, and resume negotiations in a constructive frame of mind.”
RSPCA: 'We went into the talks with an open mind'
The RSPCA said that it has offered to speak with Unite on Monday, but the union has declined. It added that changes to the pay and reward framework have been “taken out of necessity, not choice”.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “We are extremely disappointed that talks at Acas with Unite have not been successful. We went into the talks with an open mind and agreed to work with Unite on a whole raft of issues from performance management and workplace policies to future pay awards and employee wellbeing.
“However, their demand that we postpone implementation of new contracts, when 75 per cent of employees have now signed, and pay an increment in April which they know is unaffordable, meant the gap between us was just too big. We offered a further meeting on Monday 9 March, which Unite has declined but we hope they will return to the table to discuss with us the many issues on which both parties wish to make progress and how we can build a positive relationship for the future.
“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.”