Unions claim 100% turnout for equalities watchdog strike

Written by Jim Dunton on 18 November 2016 in News

Equality and Human Rights Commission staff protest job losses and cuts in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow

Unions representing staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission have claimed a clean-sheet turnout in the latest one-day protest over staffing and budget cuts at the watchdog.

This week’s walkout was the second one-day strike this month at the arms’ length body, which has around 190 staff and is overseen by the Government Equalities Office.

Staff, the majority of whom are members of either PCS and or the Unite union, are demonstrating against anticipated budget cuts of 25% and compulsory redundancies.

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CS said turnout for the strike in the capital was “once again 100%” and that an early morning gift of biscuits sent to picketers by EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath had been sent back with a note saying: “Thanks for the cakes but we'd rather have a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies!”

Pickets were also staged outside EHRC offices in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

EHRC questioned the PCS turnout figures, suggesting that some staff had opted to work from home for the first day of strike action and that – nationally – around 40% of staff had been working.

It said in a statement that it was “unfortunate” that an agreement on the organisation's future shape had had yet to be reached with the unions.

"We have made every effort to work constructively with them on our proposals as we implement our new way of working,” the statement said.

“We have listened to them throughout the process and acted on a number of their suggestions.

“Like every public sector organisation we have had cuts imposed on us and have to reduce headcount. We regret having to do this but have made sure the process has been transparent, evidence-based and thorough.”

When PCS announced the results of its ballot backing the strike action, it said that further dates for industrial action would not be ruled out.

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