Social workers in Southampton have voted to continue to strike over pay cuts after staging a second stoppage today.
Social workers first joined social care workers, rubbish collectors, street cleaners and traffic wardens on the picket line on 3 August.
Employees are angry that the council is cutting pay by up to 5.5% for anyone earning more than £17,500. The council introduced the cuts by dismissing all staff and offering to re-employ them on new contracts from 11 July.
Today, in an attempt to placate the unions, the council proposed to raise the threshold for those subject to pay cuts from £17,500 to £21,500 and decrease the size of the proposed salary cuts for the rest of the workforce by 0.5 percentage points.
Social workers’ salaries would also rise collectively by £500,000.
But Mike Tucker, secretary of the Southampton branch of Unison, said the union’s members had rejected the offer. “Even under the new proposals council workers will suffer a substantial drop in pay,” he said.
“This dispute is nowhere near a settlement.”
Royston Smith, leader of the council said he was disappointed the revised offer was rejected. ““This latest proposal is as far as we’re able to go – the unions have raised the expectations of their members over and above the financial reality,” he said. “We simply cannot afford to meet those expectations.”
He added: “Our residents have to come first and we will not continue to allow people to be disrupted by this strike action. We will look to get services back to normal by any means we can and are not ruling out any options.”
Unions in Southampton are set to meet tomorrow to decide when to strike.
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