Children’s social care workers to strike

A group of children's social care workers are to go on strike in Southampton this week against council proposals to slash pay for all but the lowest earners.

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A group of children’s social care workers are to go on strike in Southampton this week against council proposals to slash pay for all but the lowest earners.

Unions have been in a long-running dispute with Southampton Council bosses over the authority’s decision to introduce pay cuts of up to 5.5%.

Last week, two and a half days of talks between the council, representatives from Unison and Unite and arbitration service Acas ended in a stalemate.

As a result, the unions have announced that 20 care staff from the children’s contact scheme, where staff supervise visits by parents to children who are in care or subject to legal proceedings, will walk out on 30 June for seven days.

Union members voted in May to take industrial action after Southampton announced the majority of its 4,300-strong workforce would have to accept pay cuts by 11 July, or face dismissal. Staff earning less than £17,500 will be protected from the cuts.

Mike Tucker, Southampton Unison’s branch secretary, said of last week’s talks: “We are disappointed that the talks did not end in agreement.

“But the council’s decision to proceed with the mass dismissal of council workers will not go unchallenged.”

Social workers have been refusing to use their own cars for home visits, but this is the first time social care staff have been engaged in all-out strike action.

In an open letter to the council on Friday, the unions offered to suspend all industrial action across the city if the council agreed to drop the 11 July deadline. However, it is understood that no agreement was reached and the talks were adjourned.

Council managers are holding individual interviews with staff who have not agreed to the new contract, to determine who intends to carry on working after 11 July.

The council has been contacted for a response.

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