Social care workers in Greenwich Council’s adults’ services may strike over plans to cut their pay by £5,000 a year.
About 50 care managers working with older and disabled people in the London borough face having their annual pay cut from £32,000 to £27,000 after a re-evaluation of job roles, according to Onay Kasab, secretary of Unison’s Greenwich branch.
About 100 Unison members, whom Kasab described as “outraged”, will protest today outside Woolwich Town Hall about the plan and proposed job losses before the 7pm council cabinet meeting.
Kasab said care managers without a social work qualification were being targeted in the reorganisation because employers had decided that their role merited lower salaries than qualified social workers. The reduction of £5,000 includes an annual retention bonus of £3,000, which is being cancelled.
‘Excuse to cut costs’
But Kasab said: “The work being undertaken by care managers – putting together care packages for clients – doesn’t have to be undertaken by qualified social workers. I think the council is using this as an excuse to cut costs.
“The members have made it clear that they can’t afford to lose this amount of pay and they are demanding their union takes action to defend the current pay levels. They feel outraged and that their skills and experience and important work they do with elderly and vulnerable people are being undervalued.
“The irony is that so-called unqualified care managers are mentoring qualified social workers.”
A postal consultation of Unison members over a proposed one-off payment of £2,500 from the council to care managers is almost complete. This is expected to lead to a ballot for strike action.
Kasab said: “I’m pretty confident that the offer is going to be rejected. Ultimately, it will lead to strike action for the members to defend their pay and conditions.”
However, a Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “It is incorrect for Unison to state that we have made cuts to wages. The council ensures that it has salaries in place for social workers which allow it to recruit and retain good quality staff.
“A recent review has shown that the council can now do this without offering recruitment incentives and this has ceased. Such incentives are put in place to reflect a specific recruitment market and it is sensible and proper to remove them when those circumstances no longer exist.”