Joseph Rowntree Foundation recognises union for first time

Unite has become the first union to be recognised by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation group in the charity’s history.

The charity was formed 1904 but until now had not recognised a union, despite focusing on their positive role for workers and organisations and tackling poverty.

The agreement with Unite covers around 150 workers at JRF sites in London, Glasgow and York, who will have collective bargaining rights on pay and conditions.

Paul Kissick, the group chief executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, said the lack of union recognition at the almost 120-year-old charity had been “perhaps odd” and a “curiosity".

“Now, for the first time in our history, JRF will ‘walk the talk’ on the importance of unions,” said Kissick.

“At the beginning of this year, I was pleased to sign a voluntary recognition agreement with Unite the Union.”

“The agreement covers all staff within JRF and makes clear that the organisation will now negotiate with the union on collective pay and related matters (such as hours and annual leave) as well as consulting with the union on a number of other areas.”

He added: “Today, at a moment when we see deep poverty and destitution in the UK rising, and extremes of wealth and power being entrenched, the important role that unions can play is perhaps more apparent than it has been for decades.

“Every day on the news we are witnessing that power in action. As an organisation setting out our own commitment to support the transition to a more equitable future, JRF should welcome the collective action of those who have too often felt powerless in the face of injustice.

“And in this context, trade unions offer a source of hope – a potential driver of social change.”

Unite regional officer Karl Stephenson added: “This is a significant step by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and will ensure that its staff have Unite in their corner to deal with workplace issues and collectively bargain on pay.

“We look forward to building positively on this recognition agreement to benefit both the staff and the charity’s core aims and I urge all of Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s staff to join Unite.”

Staff at both JRF and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust are currently subject to a 9% increase for 2023, except for senior managers who received a lower amount.

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