Staff at Amnesty International went on strike on Wednesday after senior management were accused of “tearing up” its staff’s redundancy policy.
Workers, represented by the Unite union, formed picket lines outside the organisation’s global headquarters in Clerkenwell, and were supported by other groups of Amnesty workers from offices around the world.
Workers were striking over the senior management withdrawing redundancy agreements in August just hours before announcing new plans that could lead to dozens of staff losing their jobs.
Although silent on the timing of the announcement, Amnesty International claimed the potential job losses were part of a wider strategy to expand the organisation’s international reach.
Unite’s regional officer, Alan Scott, however, condemned what he claimed was a series of broken promises over union representation rights, pay, and temporary staff over the past 12 months.
“While many appreciate cuts to staffing are inevitable, Amnesty management must stick to agreements they have signed and publicly stated they will honour in order to dispel the pervasive mistrust that has taken hold in the organisation,” he said.
“Dozens of staff face uncertainty about their immediate future. Many know that their posts will disappear before the end of 2012, but because management have torn up the redundancy policy, they have no idea of what will happen to them.”
Speaking to strikers on Wednesday, Scott went on to describe Amnesty as “one of the most mendacious employers I have ever worked with”.
Amnesty International said it was disappointed by the union’s actions.
“We very much regret that staff have taken the decision to take industrial action, while fully respecting their right to do so,” they said.
“At the same time, it should be noted that only one third of the staff actively voted for this course of action.”
One member of staff attending the latest protest said the organisation’s recent treatment of its own employees was starting to lead some to accuse it of double standards.
“We wouldn’t be striking if Amnesty practiced what it preached. Management have breached agreements with us and have trampled over our own rights,” she said.
“We have a senior leadership team that gets paid £1m between them per year. The Secretary General alone gets paid over £190,000. I can understand those salaries when they do their job well, but recent actions make me seriously question whether they’re worth it.”
Those taking part in the strike hope their action will encourage more members of this senior management to meet with union representatives and renegotiate recent changes.
The organisation has yet to respond to the demands.