RSPCA staff are being balloted for industrial action in a dispute over pay and new contracts.
Hundreds of Unite Members at the charity are being sent voting papers in a consultative ballot designed to test the temperature on whether to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot.
The crux of the dispute is management’s proposals to jettison the recently negotiated incremental pay scheme with a performance pay arrangement which could exacerbate plummeting staff morale in an organisation where bullying has been endemic.
Under the proposals, staff allowances, especially standby payments, will be reduced by 50 per cent.
For example, an inspector will see an annual average reduction in their salary of at least £2,000 and potentially as high as £4,000.
Other front line, animal and wildlife centre staff face similar deductions.
Unite regional officer Jesika Parmer said, “Negotiations between Unite and the management over the new pay framework proposals have broken down. These plans will have serious financial implications for our members.
The new contracts will mean that it will be easier to sack our members which is totally unacceptable – and this move is coming against a background of a culture of bullying at the RSPCA.”
There are currently a number of major RSPCA infrastructure projects which are millions of pounds over budget and the organisation is facing financial difficulties.
Parmer said RSPCA bosses are trying to make staff pay the price for their mistakes.
She said, “It is simply not acceptable that front line staff bear the financial pain for catastrophic mistakes made by senior project managers. According to the society’s own data, the number of senior managers has doubled since 2014 to a total of 37 and yet the debt has grown.
“Our members are now being asked in a consultative ballot if they wish to go to the next stage of a full-scale industrial action ballot. However, there is a window of opportunity for the management to row back and enter into constructive negotiations with Unite.”