Staff of global human rights group to strike

Staff attached Amnesty International,  a global human rights group which has been very vocal on situations in many countries including Sri Lanka, are to strike today in a dispute over a redundancy policy.

Unite the Union said the strike, which will take place outside the group’s International Secretariat in London, was sparked by “the management’s unilateral withdrawal, without warning, of the redundancy policy just a couple of hours prior to releasing details of a restructure that will potentially make dozens of employees redundant”.

Amnesty International said it regretted the decision to take industrial action, but that changes were being made to “work in a more effective manner and enhance our capacity to address human rights violations”.

Unite said the changes being made at Amnesty International were the latest “in a series of broken agreements and promises”.

The union’s regional officer Alan Scott said: “While many appreciate cuts to staffing are inevitable, Amnesty management must stick to agreements they have signed and publicly stated they will honour in order to dispel the pervasive mistrust that has taken hold in the organisation.

“Dozens of staff face uncertainty about their immediate future. Many know that their posts will disappear before the end of 2012, but because management have torn up the redundancy policy, they have no idea of what will happen to them.”

He added: “Amnesty International cannot be an effective or credible human rights organisation if it does not respect the rights of its workers. The organisation’s senior management must adhere to the same standards it demands of governments and corporations globally.”

A spokesman for the human rights organisation said: “We very much regret that staff have taken the decision to take industrial action, while fully respecting their right to do so. At the same time, it should be noted that only one third of the staff actively voted for this course of action.

Amnesty International has been calling for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Since the end of the war the human rights body has carried out a campaign in London and the United States to draw attention to the situation in Sri Lanka.  (Colombo Gazette)