Southampton Council has agreed to protect children’s social workers from the pay cuts looming over most of its workforce.
The 140 social workers and team managers, who earn between £26,000 and £34,000, will still have their pay slashed by 4.5%, but they will now receive a market supplement of £1,400 a year – in effect, cancelling out the cuts.
The council will also carry out a full pay review for this group of staff over the next six months.
“We remain committed to doing all we can to remain as competitive as possible in relation to social work salaries, based on market analysis,” said Jeremy Moulton, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services.
“The council has invested substantial additional resources into children’s social care over the past two years. This has amounted to in excess of an extra £2m as part of our determination to ensure we retain and recruit the best social workers so that vulnerable children, young people and families in Southampton are protected as far as possible.”
Adult care social workers will not receive the supplement.
Unions welcomed the move to support children’s social workers, but said the pay cuts were “still unacceptable”.
“The care staff in children’s services work as a team and it is blatantly unfair to protect social workers pay while cutting the pay of the remaining staff,” said Andy Straker, Unison’s regional organiser
Unison and Unite have been in a long-running dispute with Southampton over the authority’s decision to introduce pay cuts on 11 July of up to 5.5% for all but the lowest paid.
Representatives from the unions, the council and arbitration service Acas were due to meet on Wednesday to resolve the dispute, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute.
Council leader Royston Smith blamed the unions’ demand that Southampton withdraw the dismissal notices sent to staff, a precondition that Smith said “prevented them from entering into any meaningful dialogue in the earlier meetings”.
But Unison claimed it had withdrawn the demand and had told Acas ahead of the meeting.
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