Workers at debt charity vote to strike following “aggressive intimidation” from management

Fri, Mar 8, 2024, 9:29 AM
  • Frontline workers at the debt advice charity Rooted Finance have voted 100% in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay, conditions and trade union recognition
  • Union members, represented by the IWGB, will be going on strike on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March, with demands including pay parity, improved training, and an end to victimisation
  • Since requesting voluntary trade union recognition Rooted Finance workers have been threatened with dismissal, in what they have described as “an aggressive and intimidating anti-union campaign from management”

Friday 8 March: Frontline workers at the debt advice charity Rooted Finance will down tools later this month after their ballot to strike passed with a 100% yes vote. The decision to walk out on March 18 and 19 follows what workers have described as “anti-union and intimidatory tactics” from management.

The dispute at Rooted Finance began in December last year, when staff members belonging to the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) sent an open letter to management raising concerns over low pay and inadequate training, and requesting voluntary trade union recognition.

Management retaliated with a series of “intimidatory” one-to-one and group meetings where they made clear their opposition to workers forming a union. The majority of workers who signed the letter requesting union recognition have since then been summoned to disciplinaries and threatened with dismissal.

After Rooted Finance workers went public with their dispute, seven former employees signed a public letter echoing the accusations made against the charity and sharing their own experiences of toxic practices at the organisation. The allegations they made included unsafe working conditions, unsustainable workloads, a failure to take health issues seriously, and “intimidating and bullying behaviours” from management.

Workers are now calling for increased pay in line with other debt advisors linked to the charity, appropriate training provision and an end to trade union victimisation.

Ben*, a frontline worker at Rooted Finance says: “The CEO was aggressive, pedantic and defensive in a meeting responding to our concerns. Our union rep was polite and cordial, so I don’t understand why she had to shout at him like that. It was like she considered even mentioning union recognition as beyond the pale. This anti-union attitude is rife in the charity sector.”

Laura*, a frontline worker at Rooted Finance says: “The fact that they would rather threaten us and waste hours of the organisation’s time, instead of speaking to us, is outrageous. How come they have all of this spare capacity for intimidation and aggression, but no spare capacity to address our concerns or speak to us civilly?”

Ajmal Waqif, Chair of the Charity Workers’ Branch of IWGB says“It is shocking to see more bad bosses in the charity sector letting the mask slip with their blatant anti-union intimidation. Rooted Finance management have joined the list of reckless and cruel third sector employers who are willing to drag the reputations of their supposedly progressive institutions through the mud. The actions of these dangerous directors are preventing well meaning workers from helping those in need.”

*names have been changed to protect anonymity

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For more information please contact Jake Thomas: press@iwgb.co.uk

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