Unions slam Tory proposals to freeze social workers’ pay

    Trade unions have slammed Tory proposals to freeze pay for local authority social workers and care staff in 2011.

    Shadow chancellor George Osborne announced yesterday that public sector employees earning more than £18,000 will face a one-year pay freeze if the Conservatives win the general election, which must be held by June 2010. The move would come into effect the following year.

    BASW: ‘Tories can think again’

    The average pay for a social worker in 2008 was £29,569, while staff in residential homes earned between £18,270 and £19,998.

    The British Association of Social Workers lambasted Osborne’s proposals and expressed concerns about how the profession would fare under a Tory government.

    Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, said: “If this is an early indication of how the Tories are going to try to handle the crisis in social work they can think again.”

    Unison: ‘A stick to beat hard-working people’

    Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison which represents 350,000 social care workers in the UK, said: “It’s clear that the Tories want to use the economic recession as a stick to beat ordinary hard-working people.

    “The shadow chancellor has wrapped up public sector cuts, public sector pay freezes, a rise in retirement age and reduced pension rights in warm words that will ring hollow with Britain’s army of public sector workers.”

    Labour rules out freeze across the board

    The day before Osborne’s speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester, Labour ruled out a pay freeze for lower paid staff. Chancellor Alistair Darling announced 700,000 public servants would receive a pay rise of between 0% and 1%, while pay for top judges, civil servants and NHS managers would not be raised.

    A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “This is not a new thought in the world of local government.

    “Employers have said is it’s not appropriate for chief executives and chief officers in local authorities to receive a pay award this year. That decision was made in August.”

    Unions accepted rise of 1% for 2009-10

    Following a dispute lasting over the summer, local government members of Unison, Unite and GMB voted to accept a 1% pay offer last month, an improvement on the 0.5% deal originally offered by council employers.

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    Read our Outside Left blog on the Labour and Conservative plans

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