Children’s workers to strike for a week at pay-cut council

Fifty children's social workers in Southampton are to extend their planned strike by six days in protest at the council's proposed pay cuts.

Fifty children’s social workers in Southampton are to extend their planned strike by six days in protest at the council’s pay cuts.

The adoption, fostering and residential child care workers were already due to strike on 3 August as part of a wider walkout of 450 council social care staff.

But they have announced their intention to strike for an entire week as part of the anti-cuts campaign and in response to the council’s proposal to pay a market supplement to a select few social workers.

Southampton slashed pay by up to 5.5% for all but the lowest paid staff on 11 July, with most social workers hit by a 4.5-5% cut.

The council then agreed to offer the 140 social workers and team managers in children’s services a market supplement of £1,400 a year.

But Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “The extended strike action by social workers demonstrates the depth of the anger over the council’s actions.

“The payment of £1,400 market supplement is part of the problem, not a solution. The council needs to rethink its approach to retaining social work staff.”

Unison said it would be meeting council representatives to discuss minimum staffing levels to ensure the safety of vulnerable children during the strike.

Royston Smith, leader of Southampton Council, said: “Announcing even one day’s strike in this area is unacceptable. Going beyond that and announcing a further six days of strikes for people who directly look after our vulnerable children simply beggars belief.

“We want a constructive negotiation to end industrial action in the city. How can any negotiations be constructive when the trade unions are threatening to endanger the welfare of our children?

“I would appeal to trade unions to stop industrial action in the city, continue to meet with us and find a way forward.”

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