Equality and Human Rights Commission to axe 24 of its lower-paid staff in time for Christmas
Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and Unite went on strike today in support of low-paid grade workers who are being forced into compulsory redundancy.
Following a 25 per cent cut to its budget, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) management decided to reduce staff numbers by making 24 of its employees redundant.
The notices are due to be issued on December 1 and, according to PCS, 19 of the first 24 posts to go are held by staff in the three lowest paid grades.
“It’s really worrying. What we found is that management is targeting the lowest paid staff amongst us under the guise of ‘we need to live within our means’ and this is coming at the same time as they are continuing to use very expensive interim staff,” said Union Representative and EHRC program manager, Rebecca Thomas.
According to both union reps, these cuts are disproportionately targeting certain categories such as older, ethnic minority and disabled staff.
"Their own Equality Impact Assessment has indicated that the way in which this is implemented is particularly affecting ethnic minority staff, disabled staff, older staff and also trade union members," said Ms Thomas.
The unions also reported that all negotiations had failed and the commission 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.
"If you are reducing staff complements, you should not be recruiting or retaining large numbers of interim staff particularly for long periods," said Paul Azek, PCS member and Vice Chair of the United Nations Association at Westminster.
All mediation attempts also failed, including the recourse to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
The commission's new structure would mean fewer caseworkers supporting victims of discrimination and the closure of offices in Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
The EHRC was contacted in relation to this matter. A request for comment was sent to their press office but the latter had not replied at time of publication.