Social care cuts in Scotland ‘sparking strikes’

Social care charities are likely to face more staff unrest as they slash pay to cope with local authority budget cuts, a providers' leader has warned.

Social care charities are likely to face more staff unrest as they slash pay to cope with local authority budget cuts, a providers’ leader has warned.

Annie Gunner Logan, director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers, said the third sector was “bearing the brunt” of local authority funding cuts, which had left providers struggling to maintain pay and conditions in a competitive market.

Her comments followed news that staff at Scottish social care charity Quarriers will strike over pay cuts of up to 20% next Tuesday.

Quarriers will be the first major social care organisation from the voluntary sector to experience mass stoppages, but staff at Action for Children have also threatened to strike because of an impending pay freeze.

Logan said she expected more pay disputes to follow in the months ahead.

“Where local authorities are having to make cuts within their social care budget the third sector is one that seems to be bearing the brunt,” she said.

“A lot of these organisations have taken steps already to reduce their operating costs. There’s not a lot of fat left to trim and for most providers 80% of the yearly costs are your workforce.

“It’s difficult for organisations that are trying to maintain pay and conditions because every organisation that cuts these pushes down the price in the market.”

Quarriers, which operates services for disabled people and children, said the changes to staff pay would make the company more competitive and preserve jobs. It added that most staff would see their salaries fall by 3.5%.

But Unison, whose members voted to strike by a majority of 75%, said the deal was unacceptable and has called for the two sides to enter arbitration.

Logan said council-run services were not experiencing the same pressures as the third sector, leading to the creation of a two-tier social care workforce in Scotland.

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