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‘Bullying culture’ at RSPCA

Staff at animal charity RSPCA face endemic bullying and pay issues
Ryan Fletcher, Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Endemic bullying and pay issues are driving RSPCA staff out of their jobs, Unite has warned.


The RSPCA is facing a “recruitment and retention” crisis that risks impacting upon the animal charity’s work, the union said.


Adding to long established workplace issues, RSPCA management are pulling out of a negotiated pay deal and attempting to force workers onto a performance-related pay scale.


Unite, which represents hundreds of RSPCA staff, said the switch “could exacerbate plummeting staff morale in an organisation where bullying has been endemic and not dealt with effectively.”


Unite regional officer Jesika Parmer said, “What we have here is a management that wants to take a sledgehammer to a carefully crafted incremental pay scheme and introduce a performance-related pay scheme.


“But how you evaluate ‘performance’ when it comes to rescuing abused animals remains to be seen.


“The RSPCA already faces a recruitment and retention crisis and morale is low — and this will get worse if pay and terms and conditions are eroded.”


A Unite survey conducted over the summer revealed “a culture of bullying” at the RSPCA, with 31 per cent of the 1,700-strong workforce either being bullied directly or witnessing such behaviour.


Recent canvassing by the union has also revealed that 80 per cent of staff feel that performance related pay is inappropriate given the current negative workplace culture.


More than 75 per cent of staff reported that performance related pay is not suitable for their role and 93 per cent do not feel that the current pay proposals are open or transparent.


The RSPCA said performance related pay is being considered because of “a challenging financial environment”, however Unite pointed out that the charity receives £140m a year in donations and that its financial reserves are “healthy”.


“The management’s hardline attitude can be summed up by the imposition of a below inflation one per cent cost of living increase this month without the agreement of the union,” Parmer said.


“However, there is still an opportunity for the management to have a reboot in the way it treats its workforce and we urge them to take this course before we have to consider a ballot for industrial action.”


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