Social care staff at a charity that supports adults with learning difficulties in Lancashire are considering strike action after being told they could face pay cuts.
The Alternative Futures Group told Community Care that it needed to reduce costs in the home-based reablement services it provides for Lancashire County Council after the authority cut its budget by £5.1m over three years.
The charity said the council has proposed pay cuts of as much as 25%, although Unison said the reductions could be as much as 40% for some workers.
“We have done everything we can to avoid any cuts at the frontline – this is the last resort for us,” said a spokeswoman for Alternative Futures. “We need to make sure we can survive these cuts.”
Unison said the charity has told around 400 employees that since the council will not allow it to reduce the amount of support it offers, cutting pay was the only option it had.
Tim Ellis, Unison’s regional officer for the North West, said pay cuts of the scale proposed were unviable. “Staff have no choice but to fight for their homes and their livelihood,” he said. “If they lose many will leave to work elsewhere and clients will be the ones who lose out.”
Unison is still in talks with Alternative Futures and Lancashire Council but preparations for a strike ballot are now underway.
“Strike action would be difficult – we don’t want to leave people in the lurch,” said Ellis, “but the scale of these cuts are such that people are willing to consider such action, which I believe is unprecedented in this sector.”
Alternative Futures said the proposals would avoid redunancies but that it was still consulting with staff and no final decision had been made.