Mayhew staff cull risk as animal charity is 'restructured'

The pocket sized feline was found in Harlesden Road

The pocket sized feline was found in Harlesden Road - Credit: Archant

Howls of protest have met plans to cut staff at a long-established animal charity in Kensal Green.

Unite the Union is to hold a consultative ballot on whether its members from Mayhew, in Trenmar Gardens, wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot with the option to strike.

Unite said that industrial action is a strong possibility, as the bosses press ahead with a so-called ‘rationalisation’ plan of UK operations without consultation which could lead to a 40 per cent reduction in vet nurses, a 50 per cent cut in cleaning hours and a 75 per cent cut in reception staff, as well as a reduction in animal welfare officers. 

This is on top of a pay and recruitment freeze over the last year for the 60-strong UK workforce which has meant that staff levels have dropped drastically at the charity which traces its origins back to 1886.

Megan Markle visits Mayhew before heading back to Canada. Picture: @SussexRoyal

Meghan Markle visited the Mayhew before heading back to Canada in 2020. - Credit: @SussexRoyal

The Duchess of Sussex became patron of the charity in 2019 and celebrity supporters include actors Joanna Lumley and documentary maker Louis Theroux.

According to Unite, Mayhew has provided no financial information to the union to support the case for further cuts.

They claim that volunteers will be able to pick up the slack of long-standing, experienced animal professionals.

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The charity denied that is has stopped taking in dogs and cats, and the welfare department has ceased taking requests from the public due to staff shortages.

Unite regional officer Matt Freeman said: “Mayhew is attempting to salami-slice our members' jobs, pay and employment conditions big-time. We will be campaigning strongly against these attacks.

“Staff are overworked and understaffed with some feeling burnt-out, but money is being spent on HR advisors and not core areas, such as community outreach projects, which is why people donate in the first place.

“Unite offered to enter in constructive talks with the employer to help bring clarity to what has been a shoddy process. However, this offer has clearly been rejected in light of management’s decision to proceed without talks – despite assurances we would receive a response.

“We are now asking our members in a consultative ballot this week whether they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot.”

Megan Markle is patron of the Mayhew animal shelter. Picture: @SussexRoyal

Meghan Markle remains patron of the Mayhew animal shelter. - Credit: @SussexRoyal

A spokesperson for Mayhew said: "Mayhew is currently in a consultation period with its employees in relation to a proposed restructure, with the views of all at-risk staff having been represented.

"There is a commitment to continuing to follow a fair, proper and legally-sound process for the duration of this period.

"In the meantime, and throughout this process, Mayhew continue to take in lost or abandoned dogs and cats, with the aim to find them a brighter and better life within a loving new home."