Support workers at Bron Afon housing association today (Friday) begin their second period of industrial action in protest at their wages being slashed by more than £3,000 per year. The Supported Living Team will form a picket line outside the organisation’s Cwmbran office from 7am until 10am.
At emergency talks convened by UNISON on Wednesday, the trade union made clear that Bron Afon has the money to allow support workers to be paid at their original rate.
Nick Thomas-Symonds MP and Lynne Neagle AM have sent a joint solidarity message to the support workers and have pledged to join the picket lines on a future planned strike. General secretary of the million-strong UNISON, Dave Prentis, has also pledged his support for the striking employees.
Cheryl Morgan, UNISON Torfaen branch secretary said,
“Bron Afon should be ashamed at its lack of morals taking thousands of pounds off those caring for the vulnerable. They have treated staff despicably and made them ill with the stress of struggling to make ends meet with drastically reduced salaries.
“It’s no surprise our Labour MP and AM are shocked at Bron Afon’s behaviour and we are grateful they have rallied to our cause. We hope their considerable authority and the absolute determination of the support workers not to be cowed will convince the employers they have made a terrible error that should be corrected immediately.”
In a joint statement Nick Thomas-Symonds MP and Lynne Neagle AM said,
“We are very concerned to hear about this and will be listening to the concerns workers have raised. We have sought an urgent meeting with Bron Afon and hope that this dispute will be resolved quickly.”
Notes to editors
- The UNISON picket line on Friday 21 July will be at the entrance to Bron Afon on William Brown Close, Llantarnum Industrial Park, Cwmbran NP443AB from 7.00am until 10.00am.
- A further 24-hour period of strike action will be held on Monday 24 July 2017. The picket line on that day will be as above.
- UNISON has advised staff will also be taking action short of strike action throughout the period.
- Support workers at the not-for-profit organisation, provide assistance to vulnerable people over the age of 50 in their own homes, helping them access benefits and acting as their advocates with housing and financial problems. They provide practical support too to those with mental health issues, addictions and those who have experienced domestic abuse.
- Annual wages for the overwhelming majority of staff in the Supported Living Team have been slashed from £23,572 to £20,416.
- Bron Afon won the new contract in December 2016. It is the biggest older persons contract in Wales.
- In April the Association issued new contracts to the Supported Living Team which cut salaries by between £1,500 and £3,000 – the overwhelming majority’s salaries were cut by £3,000 and this has been implemented. Staff have been placed on spot salaries and now earn £20,416.
- The new contracts meant: the service hours increased from 9am-5pm to 8am-8pm, (same working hours, much longer day); an increase in clients from 325 to 450.
- UNISON members have said the faster turnaround on what support workers are asked to do with clients in a shorter time means the quality of support provided is impacted.
- The Supported Living Team was a blueprint for the development of a separate team supporting those under 50 years. The Supported Living Team trained them and yet they earn £7,000 a year less.
- There are 12 employees in the Supported Living Team
- Bron Afon provides affordable housing (as a social landlord), support services to tenants, maintenance and individual care support (not all tenants require assistance).
- Bron Afon’s actions go against everything it proclaims in its mission statement: Caring about people; listening and learning; involving people in decisions; being trustworthy, open and honest.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer 07816 53 83 97