GMB and Unite trade unions representing Labour staff have jointly responded to party plans to cut at least 90 jobs with anger at what they describe as a “lack of communication and consultation”, LabourList can reveal.
Labour has told those being asked to consider voluntary redundancy that senior staff will not be taking pay cuts to help improve the party’s poor finances as their salaries are “appropriate” and necessary “to attract and retain people”.
In a letter to the party seen in full by LabourList, staff unions have pressed the party on alternative cost-saving measures, asking why senior pay reductions have not been considered and why staff have not been offered the chance to reduce their hours.
Employees have been offered voluntary severance on the basis of three weeks’ pay for every year served. The unions are asking for four weeks instead, and for a minimum of £5,000 to be applied, allowing newer, lower-paid staff to consider the offer.
The unions have also raised concerns over the recruitment of temporary workers, after it emerged that Labour was hiring up to 50 officers on six-month contracts through an agency, with the aim of clearing the backlog of disciplinary cases.
“We ask that any ongoing recruitment is internal only and/or ring-fenced for recently departed employees including temporary work, and that agency recruitment is halted,” the joint letter sent to the party reads.
GMB and Unite have made it clear that in the case of too few applying for the voluntary redundancy scheme, “we will not be accepting compulsory redundancies as an option”. Labour has said it would consider them only as a “last resort”.
The joint letter from unions concludes: “We note that the lack of clarity, trust and openness with staff is breeding a climate of anxiety and fear amongst staff impacting on their mental health. It is simply not the way we would expect an organisation like the Labour Party to undertake work of this nature.
“From a lack of transparency about finances when making key decisions, a lack of clarity about who might be ‘denied’ permission to leave, and a lack of transparency about the structure of the organisation, we believe the staff and union representatives are being asked to make decisions in the dark most of the time, and would urge management to urgently review these issues and provide staff with as much information as possible about any upcoming plans to change the organisation.”
Labour general secretary David Evans has said Labour’s finances have suffered due to lost members and using funds to deal with antisemitism cases. He told staff that reserves are now down to just one month’s payroll.