Strike threat by care workers in row over pay

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Union leaders say some employees of social care charity Choice Support face pay cuts of up to £5,000 from their wages of between £18,000 and £20,000 a year if proposed changes are imposed.

Unison say the charity will serve staff with redundancy notices unless they sign up for pay cuts.

Choice Support is commissioned by Wakefield Council to provide care for adults with learning difficulties and complex needs in small care homes across the district.

The charity employs a total of 343 full and part time workers in Wakefield.

Of those, 80 staff took part in a Unison ballot for industrial action and 68 voted in favour of strike action. Unison say the company is proposing a new flat basic rate of pay and wants to stop paying staff extra for weekend and night working. It is claimed that some staff who have transferred to Choice Support from the NHS could lose out by up to £4,000 a year.

Unison regional organiser Gary Cleaver, said: “Our members will lose their homes if these pay cuts are forced on them. Many will be forced to leave a job they love and are dedicated to doing. They care deeply about the services they provide, but have no choice but to take strike action in defence of their rightful pay and conditions”.

A spokesman for Choice Support said: “The new rates of pay actually increase the pay for our lowest paid staff and are in line with local market rates. We recognise some staff will unfortunately lose out through the changes and have offered those a lump sum payment equivalent to nine months of any salary reduction.”

“We will make every effort to ensure the high quality of care we provide does not suffer as a consequence of this action. The changes we are negotiating are necessary so we can continue providing long term, sustainable and high quality care for the people we support. Currently, it costs more to provide that care in Wakefield than is available from the public purse. We are not a profit making organisation, but we have to protect the long term viability of the services we provide.”

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