Pay-cut social care workers to take industrial action

Social care workers at Southampton Council are starting industrial action next week in protest at pay cuts of up to 5.5%.

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Social care workers at Southampton Council are taking industrial action next week in protest at pay cuts of up to 5.5%.

Social care professionals are among 2,600 Unison and Unite members who will be working to rule, which includes a ban on overtime, not covering for vacant posts and refusing to use their private cars for work.

The industrial action, backed by 80% of union members, starts on 23 May and is described as “indefinite”.

Secretary of Unison’s Southampton district branch, Mike Tucker, said the move would “demonstrate that the council only functions because council workers work unpaid overtime, carry out duties they are not paid for and cover for jobs that have been cut”.

“Social care staff will not use their own vehicles to visit clients or transport clients and will be able to carry out less visits if they do not use their own vehicles. By not working unpaid overtime, they will not be able to deal with their current workloads.”

In addition to the work-to-rule, refuse collection workers will be among selected groups of staff to go on strike “for extended periods”, according to Unison.

Tucker added: “It is council workers who keep the city running, not councillors. The industrial action we hope will bring the Conservative controlled council back to the negotiating table. Only a negotiated settlement can avoid a summer of strikes and disruption.”

Councillor Royston Smith, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said he was “very disappointed” at the unions’ actions and urged them to reconsider.

“While I fully understand that any reduction in wages will be difficult for our staff, this is the only way to protect our residents from losing their libraries, leisure centres, and Sure Start services,” he said.

“The reality is that without making changes to staff terms and conditions, we would be looking at losing a further 400 jobs over the next two years. That would mean dozens of front line services that our residents rely on facing the axe. I am determined not to allow that to happen. Southampton deserves better.”

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