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East Lancashire care workers in 40 per cent pay cut fear
CARE workers looking after vulnerable adults have slammed proposals which could see their pay cut by up to 40 per cent.
Creative Support staff said they would ballot on strike action during a rally also attended by Alternative Futures Group (AFG) workers at King George’s Hall, Blackburn.
There are around 100 Creative Support staff in Blackburn with Darwen, and nearly 300 AFG workers across East Lancashire who help adults with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs.
Workers said they had been told to sign reduced contracts or face the sack.
Unions said the proposals originated from cuts in central Government funding, which the two care providers’ local commissioners, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, have implemented.
However, both councils said it was up to Creative Support and AFG to decide how they manage making savings.
Tim Ellis, Unison regional organiser, said: “These are huge cuts in front line staff pay. It’s a disgrace because it puts the long serving staff at risk and so too their service.”
Creative Support worker Tania Slater, 54, said staff regularly work 50-hour weeks for salaries of around £18,000 a year. She said: “I absolutely love my job but I feel like we’re being shoved aside.”
Staff said they had been told that redundancy was not an option, and that some had been offered small compensation payments.
AFG worker Craig Simpson said: “There is no way we can live on the wages they are suggesting. We are scared about losing our homes.”
Julie Cooke, service director at Creative Support, said it had been told by Blackburn with Darwen Council to “deliver efficiencies” in order to protect and retain its services and was taking part in ongoing negotiations.
Neil Campbell, AFG chief executive, said it was not considering making redundancies and would not reduce direct support hours despite “extreme pressures” on its budget.
Harry Catherall, Blackburn with Darwen Council deputy chief executive, said: “We have had to seek savings from external providers but we have not asked any provider to make savings in excess of the level the council has had to bear.”