A devastating critique of the managerial style at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has been published by Unite.
In an open letter to the RSPCA’s chief executive Chris Sherwood, Unite said that recent talks over pay and new contracts were ‘deliberately restrictive, disingenuous and designed to fail’.
Hundreds of workers are currently voting in a consultative ballot designed to test the temperature on whether to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot. The ballot closes on Thursday, December 5.
Unite said the crux of the dispute is management’s proposals to replace 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.
Unite said, 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.
The union said that the RSPCA’s plans were ‘amongst the most aggressive set of proposals ever seen by Unite’. It had never seen such a document in the charitable sector before.
Unite has highlighted the bullying that is rife at the UK’s leading animal charity, founded in 1824, which, it says, ‘originates from the very top’.
In the letter, Unite said. “It has to be stated that on more than one occasion, off the record veiled threats were made by certain senior managers towards the union representatives present. This is simply not acceptable and evidence of a wider cultural problem that exists within our charity.”
Unite called on Chris Sherwood to establish another 45-day consultation period for genuine talks to take place. Unite said it was not ‘an inconvenient irritant that can be ignored, ridden over and side-lined’.
Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said. “This open letter is a devastating critique that shows a management that has walked into a cul de sac of its own making. Now is the time for a managerial U-turn and for genuine negotiations to take place.”