Statement on planned strike action - RSA

Statement on planned strike action

Corporate communications

We have been in collective pay bargaining discussions with the IWGB trade union (of which approximately 30% of our exceptional staff team are members) for nearly a year, meeting formally with union representatives nine times to openly and transparently share details about our financial situation. 

We have acted consistently and in good faith throughout, making pay offers that are affordable and sustainable within the tight budgetary constraints that we face.        

In response, beyond strike action, the IWGB union have moved to disrupt RSA events and jeopardise crucial income streams at a time when we need them the most. We strongly believe that there is never justification for people deliberately and actively seeking to undermine their own and their colleagues’ hard work, together with the reputation and income of the organisation they work for. 

We are acutely aware of the toll these actions and ongoing campaigning are having on our hardworking and highly valued staff team, and we appreciate their commitment and dedication as we work towards achieving our social change mission. 

Actively trying to damage our reputation, project delivery, events and income generation cannot be in the best interests of our charity, workforce or the realisation of our mission. Any reputational damage and lower income inevitably mean less money to protect and expand pay and jobs.

Throughout our negotiations, we have repeatedly recommended bringing in ACAS to support conciliatory conversations, something which the IWGB has consistently refused unless we meet their unaffordable pay demands in advance. 

We recognise the cost-of-living pressures affecting our staff, and we are committed to doing everything we can on pay subject to maintaining the financial stability of the RSA. In practice, that means running a balanced operating budget on an ongoing basis. To ensure we are doing this, we recently independently benchmarked salaries and pay rates for individuals in the bargaining unit, and found them to be competitive.  

Last week we again asked union representatives to call off the planned industrial action and to engage in conciliation talks managed and facilitated by ACAS. Union representatives said they were not prepared to call off this latest strike action unless we met their pay demands in advance which for this financial year (2023-24) alone would result in an operating loss of around half a million pounds. 

We have a duty to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the RSA. This means ensuring that our ongoing costs are covered by our income, and not making pay increases we fundamentally cannot afford. To do so would put pay and jobs at risk. 

The IWGB claims we should spend our reserves on pay increases. These reserves have been independently assessed by auditors and our Audit and Risk Committee and deemed to be appropriate to cover the risks we face as an organisation. To use them for ongoing costs would jeopardise the RSA’s financial sustainability.

We strongly urge the IWGB to act in the best interests of our charity, their members, and our social mission to agree to conciliate with support from ACAS, to call off their strikes and to bring their damaging, inaccurate and misleading campaigning to an end.