Pay cuts prompt union to call for better pay and training standards
Unite takes up fight for better pay in care sector
Union bosses are demanding housing associations which provide care services sign up to a sector-wide pay deal because they think low wages are causing standards to fall.
Paul Kershaw, chair of Unite’s housing branch, said he is entering negotiations with the National Housing Federation and landlords which provide care to try to come to an agreement on a minimum wage and minimum standard of training and support for housing workers.
Providers risk industrial action if they continue to cut wages, he warned.
Mr Kershaw said limiting staff pay and conditions meant services were beginning to suffer: ‘The prospects are that this will get worse and damage the reputation of the sector. We’re not starting out with an exact idea of what a suitable rate of pay or level of training is because the sector is so varied, but we would certainly like the discussion.’
He linked the move to a report from the Care Quality Commission, which said One Housing Group was ‘failing to protect the safety and welfare’ if its most vulnerable residents because of a lack of staff training.
Unite said staff pay cuts were threatening care standards and leading to a ‘race to the bottom’ for providers. Around 250 individuals working at One Housing Group’s support arm, One Support, were affected by wage cuts last month, with workers seeing an average fall of 8 per cent.
Kevin Beirne, director of housing care and support at One Housing Group, said: ‘The CQC’s visit happened before any consultations about proposed salary changes, so there is absolutely no link between [the CQC’s findings] and staff salaries.’
Several other care providers have also changed their working conditions or pay over the past year.
In November, a proposed strike at homelessness charity Centrepoint was called off after Unite negotiated a deal to drop plans for compulsory redundancies and increased working hours, but staff still faced a 5 per cent pay cut.
In November, an investigation by Inside Housing found that 25 of the largest landlords had spent £18 million on redundancy and severance packages since 2008.
Unite wants organisations that provide care to sign up to providing all staff with a set level of training and ensuring that senior staff are on a salary reflected in front line staff’s wages.
A spokesperson for the NHF said it played ‘absolutely no role’ in decisions on pay taken by its members.
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the number of older people needing care by 2025
the amount spent on redundancies and severance packages between 2008 and 2011 by the 25 biggest landlords
8 per cent
the average pay cut faced by 250 One Support staff
5 per cent
the reduction in salaries capped for 15 months brokered by unions for Centrepoint staff