Labour facing strike action over plans to cut quarter of workforce

Labour facing strike action over plans to cut quarter of workforce

Labour faces potential strike action among its staff following plans to cut about a quarter of its workforce amid a funding crisis and a restructuring of the party’s organisation.

The Unite and GMB unions said they would hold indicative ballots of staff this month over possible strike action after the announcement to staff on Tuesday of detailed plans to reorganise the party.

The ballots will begin next Monday and run until 31 August, and were being set up following a briefing to staff by the party’s general secretary, David Evans.

Evans’s presentation, titled Organise to Win, was criticised by some staff members as opaque and heavy on jargon, telling staff they must be ready to work in an “agile and multidisciplinary” way.

Vaughan West, a London region organiser for the GMB, said: “Workers who give their all to the Labour party should not be made to pay the price for any reorganisation. GMB will ask members if they are willing to strike over compulsory redundancies. If the answer is yes, we will not hesitate to move to a formal strike ballot.”

Matt Smith, a regional officer for Unite, said: “Labour staff have worked tirelessly for the party and should not be made to pay the price for this reorganisation.”

The cuts, which the party hopes to implement through voluntary job losses, would result in about 90 redundancies, accounting for about a quarter of all Labour staff.

The party’s finances have been hampered by having to fight three general elections in six years, as well as a string of costly legal cases. Labour paid out a six-figure sum a year ago to settle a case brought by seven former employees and a veteran BBC journalist, admitting it defamed them in the aftermath of a Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism.

There has not been a parallel rise in revenues, with no influx of new members after Keir Starmer became leader. Unite has also carried out a review of its funding to Labour – it is the biggest single contributor to the party – because of disagreements over the direction taken by Starmer.

Labour’s most recent annual report showed 367 staff were employed by the party as of 31 December 2019, just after that year’s general election, many of them at its Southside headquarters in Victoria, central London.

Labour was contacted for comment.

 

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