Social care staff at Derbyshire Council feel “devalued and angry” at being told to accept pay cuts of up to £3,000 or leave their jobs, according to union activists.
Social workers fear they could be paid less than unqualified care workers, according to an adult services manager who predicted the “insulting” pay offers would force many staff to leave.
Derbyshire Council’s Unison branch is taking legal advice on whether to advise members to accept the deals offered following an equal pay review, which council bosses have told them must be signed by 31 December or they will receive notices of dismissal.
Overall, 3,800 council staff face pay cuts of between £600 and £3,000 and the loss of other entitlements. They include social workers and support workers in residential and day services, according to Gary Ransford, chair of Derbyshire County Unison branch.
Single status system
The authority is introducing “single status” arrangements next year to equalise pay for all staff following a re-evaluation of 1,400 job roles. The council used the Hay grading system, one of the most commonly-used frameworks for setting local government salaries.
Ransford, a day service worker for people with learning disabilities, said: “Our members feel devalued and angry at the new deals.
“I am personally losing over £2,000 and so is my wife. Most of our reps are losing out and those who are not are refusing to sign the new contract and advising other people to do so in solidarity.”
The adult services manager, who asked not to be named, told Community Care that morale in her team had reached “rock bottom”.
“I agree with all of my staff’s complaints and I’m sure lots of them will end up leaving the council over the next three years,” the manager said. “That will include skilled and experienced staff and in the end we’re going to be left with monkeys, because that’s what you get if you pay peanuts.”
Council had “no choice”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire Council said the authority had “no choice” but to introduce the single status arrangements, because “it’s a national agreement to iron out inequalities in pay and conditions among employees”.
“The basic pay of around 77% of employees will stay the same or go up,” she added.
The spokesperson said an additional £13m was being invested in salaries, and the pay bill for adult care was rising by £4 million. In addition, nearly £14m was being invested to protect pay for all staff for three years, so any decreases will not come into effect until 2013.
She added: “We greatly value our social workers and recognise the importance, pressure and sensitivity of the jobs they do. We have invested heavily in our social care provision over the years and will continue to do so.”