Strike at EHRC set for Wednesday 26 October

19 October 2016

Equality staff vote overwhelmingly to strike

14 October 2016

Our members at the government’s equality watchdog have voted overwhelmingly to strike over cuts that we believe would make it impossible for the agency to function.

Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been told to expect a 25% budget cut and threatened with compulsory redundancies, on the back of a 70% cut since 2010.

In a ballot, 82% voted for strikes and 90% for other forms of industrial action, on a 64.7% turnout. No strike dates have yet been set.

We are seeking a meeting with EHRC’s senior managers on Monday and our rare meeting to consider strike plans.

The cuts would mean fewer caseworkers supporting victims of discrimination and could seriously undermine EHRC’s ability to tackle the rise in hate crime after the Brexit vote. They could also threaten the commission’s United Nations ‘A’ status as a national human rights institution.

Nineteen of the first 26 posts due to be axed are held by staff in the three lowest paid grades, meaning the government body responsible for protecting vulnerable workers is itself disproportionately targeting older, ethnic minority and disabled staff.

The commission has refused to consider alternative sources of savings, including the high cost of employing non-payroll consultants – with almost £1.2 million last year paid to just eight staff.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The commission is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants while getting rid of low paid staff who provide daily support to victims of discrimination.

“It is sickening that as division and hate are being fostered in our communities in the wake of the Brexit vote, this Tory government is cutting the staff whose job it is to combat this.”

Update, 19 October: The first strike will be on Wednesday 26 October, followed by an initial phase of industrial action short of a strike. Dates for further walkouts are also being considered.

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