Unite slams 'fire & rehire' by occupational therapists' union

Workers given just three days to make life changing redundancy decision or accept new jobs on worse terms

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Bosses at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists must scrap their callous redundancies, negotiate with Unite or face the consequences, including possible industrial action.

On Monday, October 17 the College which is registered as a union, informed its staff that it was placing 1 in 10 workers at risk of redundancy. Astoundingly, the College gave the workers just 3 full days to decide whether to take a poor redundancy package or apply for other jobs on worse terms. Workers who unsuccessfully apply for alternative employment will be forced out on statutory redundancy terms. Unite is just weeks away from signing a formal recognition deal with the College.

Some Unite members at the College have sought support from psychologists and therapists to cope with the sheer shock and stress of being forced into a life changing redundancy situation at break-neck speed. Occupational therapists are champions of workplace wellbeing and the College is acting in direct opposition to the principles of its profession.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “A registered union is disgracefully using fire and rehire to attack its own workers. It’s rank hypocrisy from a union that champions workplace well-being. The stress that workers are under is cause enough for them to seek therapy themselves. You could hardly make this up.

“The Royal College must immediately scrap this redundancy process and negotiate with Unite. The workers have their union’s full support and we leave all options on the table to support our members.

The workers represent occupational therapists at work. Others do a range of roles including, administration, finance and policy. Some are occupational therapists themselves, who are also members of the College.

Unite regional officer Matthew Freeman added, “Rather than negotiate with Unite, the Royal College would rather drop its principles and act like some of the worst employers around. The College has put its loyal staff under tremendous stress and pressure. This smacks of anti-union behaviour just weeks before Unite signs a recognition agreement.

“We even have some members seeking counselling because of the toll this announcement is having on their mental health. The College faces considerable reputational damage if it presses ahead and Unite will not hesitate to use its considerable firepower to support its members.”

By Ciaran Naidoo

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