Unions say time is running out to solve Action for Children dispute

UNISON and Unite are today (Monday) stepping up their campaign for pay justice at Action for Children by writing to trustees and celebrity supporters over what they see as pay double standards at the charity.

With the ballot for strike action closing just hours from now, at midday, the two unions have been contacting celebrity supporters of the charity – including Jenny Agutter, Sir Trevor McDonald and Angela Rippon – seeking their support in the pay dispute that has so far lasted over a year.

Senior executives at Action for Children have said they will impose a one per cent pay award on its 5,000 employees. Despite lengthy negotiations, charity bosses are refusing to offer more, even though staff have had their wages frozen since 2010, and there has been an increase in the number of senior managers earning over £70,000.

UNISON and Unite say this is unacceptable, especially as Action for Children has had operating surpluses of over £5.4m in each of the last three years.

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UNISON national voluntary sector officer Simon Watson said: “We have been trying to settle this pay round for over a year but senior managers stubbornly refuse to do a deal, even though they have the money.

“With the prospect of industrial action looming closer, we are hopeful that trustees and celebrity backers of the charity will intervene to help senior managers at the charity start to see sense.

“People at work only ever opt for strike action when all other avenues have been closed down, and then with a heavy heart. Despite the scrooge-like behaviour of the employer, staff at the charity are continuing to work tirelessly to deliver services to vulnerable families across the country.”

Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said: “The trustees have a duty to see that the charity is well run on behalf of its clients and staff – that’s why we have written to them to use their good offices with management to see that our members receive a fair pay award and thus resolve this dispute.

“Our members have suffered a real dramatic fall in their standard of living over the last five years as their pay has been held at a virtual standstill. However, the number of top executives earning over £70,000 per year has increased from 16 to 21 and for the last three years the charity has made an average surplus of £5.4m each year.

“All the financial indicators point to a much better pay rise than a measly one per cent currently on the table, with no cost of living rise for 40 per cent of staff.”

Notes to editors:

  • The unions’ strike ballots opened on Tuesday 26 January and are due to close at noon today (Monday).

Media contacts:

Alex Flynn T: 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 E: alex.flynn@unitetheunion.org

Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk