Charity care staff vote to strike over pay cuts - UPDATED

Care workers who look after severely disabled people have voted to go on strike over planned pay cuts of up to £5,000.

Monday, 20th January 2014, 8:22 am
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Staff at Choice Support, a charity which provides the service under contract to Wakefield Council, voted for industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Public sector union Unison said the charity was threatening to sack the care workers at the end of March and re-employ them on lower salaries if they did not agree to have their pay cut.

Gary Cleaver, Unison’s regional organiser, said: “Many members of staff will be forced to leave a job they love and are dedicated to doing because they will not be able to survive.”

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Mr Cleaver said disabled people could suffer if care staff were forced to leave the charity.

He said: “They have built up long relationships with service users, and this puts those long-established relationships in jeopardy.”

Choice Support said the three-year Wakefield Council contract was running at a loss, but Unison claims high salaries paid to directors at the London-based national charity prove it can afford not to make the cuts.

Accounts filed at the Charity Commission show there were nine directors earning between £60,000 and £120,000 last year.

Mr Cleaver added: “Choice Support is not a charity that is in financial difficulty.”

Choice Support said some salaries would actually rise as a result of the changes, and staff set to lose pay would be compensated with a lump sum.

The charity said in a statement: “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 so we can continue supporting people in the future and protect people’s jobs.”

Unison said more than 50 per cent voted for strike action at the charity, where it represents around two thirds of the workforce.

But Choice Support said only a minority of the workforce voted to strike.

Meetings will be held next week to decide on dates for industrial action.