Thursday, June 2, 2011

Southampton Council workers fight back.

"Southampton City Council has a commitment to high quality services and this means that we need to employ talented and committed people." (16 Nov 2010- Council website).

“The tactic being deployed by Southampton city council is possible because UK employment law reinforces the medieval ‘master-servant’ principle that has no place in the 21st Century. Our members are standing up for basic human rights against bullying tactics and the Council should be condemned by all decent people.”

Mark Wood, Unite Convenor at Southampton city council

Is this to be our Wisconsin? Union members are uniting against pay cuts, redundancies and privatisations. They are at the forefront of the fight to defend local public services. Unison and Unite members are serving our society in a big way and deserve our full and total support.  Strike action is underway by a wide range of their members and they deserve our support. So much for the false claim of being good employers. As in Birmingham and elsewhere, only the unions fighting back, with the full support of the communities that they serve, can stop these cuts causing catastrophies to us all.

UNISON anger over cost of Agency Social Workers used by Southampton City Council - Unison S.E. press release 1/6/11

While cutting the pay of social workers by over 5.5%, Southampton City Council is proposing to pay £250 a day for eight Child Protection Social Workers recruited via a temporary employment agency.  Directly employed Social Workers are paid between £26,000 and £38,000 a year depending on experience.  Only the most “Senior Practitioners” are paid over £34,000 a year.

A leaked e-mail from a private Social Worker recruitment agency states:

I currently have a number of opportunities to work for Southampton Social Services as part of a small improvement project.
We are looking for 8 qualified social workers and 2 senior practitioners to work within the assessment teams and long term teams in the council. These posts are to start immediately and applicants must have extensive CP experience in the UK.
The pay rates for the posts are non-negotiable and are as follows:
QSW - £230 per day Senior Practitioner - £250 per day
If you are interested in these posts please reply to this email and I will call you straight back.

As a result of the proposed wage cuts, which will reduce Social Workers annual pay between £1000 and £1500 a year, the City Council is finding it difficult to retain staff.  Social Workers are leaving the Council to work for nearby Councils.  Yet while cutting the pay of the Social Workers it employs, the Council is prepared to pay up to £63,000 a year for temporary, self employed Social Workers.

Andy Straker, UNISON Regional Organiser, commented, “This is madness.  The Council is forcing experienced Social Workers to leave the Council because it is cutting their pay, and then paying self employed Social Workers up to double what it pays its own staff.  If the Conservatives needed another reason to re-think their plans to cut Council staff wages from 11 July, then surely this is it.”

He added “Here we are in a middle of a dispute over cuts to pay and conditions with rubbish building up on the streets and misleading council statements trying to persuade members of the public to pay for parking while its parking enforcement workers are on strike and we have the Council offering to pay £230 a day for Social Workers.  Here’s an idea Cllr Smith, stop the cuts to all council staffs terms and conditions and treat them as you would want to be treated and you will not need to advertise for agency workers as staff just might want to remain in SCC employment”.

For more information contact:
Andy Straker, UNISON Regional Organiser on 023 8024 9126.

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