A quarter of a million social care professionals are expected to take part in today’s public sector strike over government reforms to pensions.
Many council offices will be closed during the 24-hour strike, which started at midnight, but the Local Government Association (LGA) has confirmed that contingency measures are in place in England and Wales to protect vital services, including some social care services.
Mental health social workers will be working on emergency rotas and children’s residential centres will be staffed “as fully as possible”, the association said. The level of disruption will vary across the UK depending on levels of union membership.
Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, said: “Whilst inevitably some services will be affected [on 30 November], we will work hard to make sure the elderly are cared for and vulnerable children are protected.
“The LGA is trying to reform the pension scheme in a way that is as fair as possible to staff and affordable for taxpayers. The offer that we have achieved through robust negotiations is significantly better than the one that was originally on the table from the government.
“No decision has been made on employee contributions and the LGA continues to discuss a range of options with unions and the government, including zero contributions from low paid staff.”
But Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said there was still “no pensions deal that we can put to a single social worker”.
He told Community Care last week that Unison remained committed to “try and turn these proposals into a realistic offer that can be put to social care staff”, but added: “Social care staff, already buckling under the strain of the government’s cuts, have been pushed to the brink by ministers’ public sector pensions proposals.
“These workers did not take the decision to strike lightly; social care staff go to work day in, day out, to make their communities better, safer places in which to live and work, but they have been left with little choice.”
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