Disability project workers back strike action over 9.5% pay cut

Unison members vote back walk out after Your Choice Barnet proposes to slash pay

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis

Staff at an independent living service for disabled adults in Barnet are to go on strike over plans to slash their pay by 9.5%.

The move follows growing discontent among Unison members at Your Choice Barnet since February 2012, when the local authority service turned it into a trading company run by Barnet Homes.

The union, whose members voted unanimously in favor of strike action, said Barnet Homes was trying to slash wages in order to repay a commercial loan.

It also said that in the past 12 months Your Choice Barnet has sharply increased its use of agency staff and zero-hour contracts, prompting an “exodus” of experienced staff from the service.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Your Choice Barnet care workers are fighting to preserve a service to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Many of our members have said that the 9.5% cut in pay will mean they simply will not be able to pay their bills and some would struggle to keep their homes.

“This outstanding strike ballot of 100% for strike action shows they have the courage and determination to fight for those critical frontline services.”

John Burgess, branch secretary at Barnet Unison, said: “Our members have always been clear they are fighting for their jobs and the future of the service.

“We are now seeking an urgent meeting with Your Choice Barnet to see if talks can avert having to take strike action.”

A spokeswoman for Barnet Homes said: “We received notification of the outcome of the ballot last Tuesday and were disappointed with the outcome from the ballot, especially as less than half the membership voted.

“We are due to meet with Unison this week to discuss the outcome and proposed action in more detail.

“This was the last of a series of changes we put in place to secure the future of the services and the organisation and we consulted closely with Your Choice Barnet staff and stakeholders for three months of consultation from 30 January to 17 March and provided feedback on their comments and suggestions.

“Prior to the salary reductions changes we were being paid a market rate of £18.43 per hour and it was costing us £21.81 per hour and this was not sustainable.

“We hope that any action does not affect our vulnerable service users as well as their parents and carers who rely on the service we provide, but are unable to comment further until we have met with Unison.”

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