Care workers at a charity that supports adults with learning difficulties in Lancashire are holding a demonstration outside one of the council’s local offices today after being told they could face pay cuts.
Their employer, Alternative Futures Group (AFG), says it needs to reduce costs in the home-based reablement service after Lancashire Council cut its budget by £5.1m.
AFG has already reduced its management and office costs by over £2m, but needs to make further savings.
Unison has claimed that some of AFG’s support workers, who earn a basic salary of £19,000 plus overtime for evening and weekend work, could see their pay slashed by up to 40%.
However, a spokesperson for AFG said this was “hugely inaccurate”. She said only a very small number of people across the organisation would be impacted by pay cuts above 9%.
Unison and AFG met with the conciliation service Acas yesterday to try and reach an agreement on the level of cuts, but AFG was unable to say if progress had been made.
If they cannot reach an agreement, staff will be dismissed on 1 July and re-engaged on new contracts, some on a significantly lower rate of pay, according to Unison.
“People are distraught,” said Tim Ellis, Unison’s regional officer for the North West. “If AFG makes these cuts, it won’t be able to compete with Tesco for staff.”
He added: “The government made cuts in adult social care and that’s a significant driver of these events. But there are major concerns that the cuts AFG is proposing are unnecessary, given the relatively limited cuts most authorities have made.”
Unison is preparing to ballot staff on whether to take industrial action.
“We appreciate that this is an unsettling time for our staff,” said AFG in a statement. Neil Campbell, AFG’s chief executive, added: “AFG receives the majority of its funding from local councils, many of which have made significant cuts to their annual budgets. This has of course impacted on the way we are funded.
“Despite extreme pressures on our budget, AFG is not considering making redundancies and will not reduce direct support hours.”
Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services in Lancashire, said the relative share of council expenditure on learning disability services in both the current and next financial years would actually see a small increase.
Social care staff consider strike over pay cut plan