Animal charity could face strike ballot over job cuts row


Unite the union will ballot members on strike action at the animal welfare charity Mayhew after it accused the organisation’s bosses of culling jobs without consultation. 

Unite said it would hold a consultative ballot on whether its members wanted to proceed with a full-scale industrial action ballot with the option to strike.

In a statement, the union described industrial action as a “strong possibility”, after it accused the charity’s bosses of pressing ahead with a “rationalisation” plan of UK operations without consultation.

The union said the plans could lead to a 40 per cent reduction in vet nurses, a 50 per cent cut in cleaning hours and a 75 per cent cut in reception staff, as well as a reduction in animal welfare officers. 

This is on top of a pay and recruitment freeze over the last year for the charity’s 60-strong workforce, Unite said. 

The union said about half of the charity’s UK staff were members, not including senior management. 

According to Unite, Mayhew has provided no financial information to the union to support the case for further cuts and has claimed that volunteers would be able to pick up the slack of long-standing, experienced animal professionals.

The union said the charity had stopped taking in dogs and cats and the welfare department had ceased taking requests from the public due to staff shortages.

It said the charity had refused to recognise the union for the purpose of collective bargaining. 

Matt Freeman, regional officer at Unite, said: “Mayhew is attempting to salami-slice our members’ jobs, pay and employment conditions big-time. 

“We will be campaigning strongly against these attacks.

“Staff are overworked and understaffed with some feeling burnt out, but money is being spent on HR advisors and not core areas, such as community outreach projects, which is why people donate in the first place.

“Unite offered to enter into constructive talks with the employer to help bring clarity to what has been a shoddy process. 

“However, this offer has clearly been rejected in light of management’s decision to proceed without talks, despite assurances we would receive a response.

“We are now asking our members in a consultative ballot this week whether they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot.”

The charity had not responded to a request for comment from Third Sector before publication of this story.

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