On Wednesday 17 October, Unite members at Amnesty’s International Secretariat (IS) offices in Central London took strike action. This is a separate dispute to the one at Amnesty UK, where two days of strike action have already taken place; there are separate ballots and issues, but both are due to managers failing to abide by agreed policies.
Staff at the IS are outraged because management has contemptuously broken agreements on terms and conditions that it had previously agreed.
In early August, just before announcing that major job losses would be coming soon, management said that the existing redeployment and redundancy policies would not be applied to 37 staff that were then facing potential redundancy. Management subsequently put forward a proposal during negotiations to halve redundancy pay, cut out redeployment and reduce notice periods.
Management has also broken a number of other existing agreements, having adopted a dismissive attitude to the Unite union that has around 300 members at the International Secretariat offices out of a total of 500 workers there. 96.5% of the 56% of union members who voted in a union ballot, said ‘yes’ to strike action.
Unite members point out that Amnesty demands that governments abide by agreements in international treaties, but it is not prepared to abide by longstanding agreements with its own staff.
Picket lines were well attended, supported by Amnesty International members from Britain and abroad. A rally was held at lunchtime attended by 150 strikers and their supporters, including workers from Amnesty U , and members of Unite’s Community, Youth workers and Not for Profit National Industrial Sector Committee. The meeting was addressed by members of that committee and Unite’s executive, and solidarity greetings were given by Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) chairperson.
Messages of support can be sent to: [email protected] and donations should be made payable to: ‘Easton Street Strike Fund’ A/C No 01190008 Sort Code 40-03-33