Support workers at Bron Afon housing association will tomorrow (Thursday), escalate their industrial action by striking for a five-day period. Members of staff who help vulnerable Torfaen residents, will each lose more than £15,000 over the course of the five–year contract after the employer slashed wages by more than £3,000 per year.
UNISON has revealed the magnitude of the salary cuts has left workers at risk of eviction from their homes and needing to use food banks.
Rosie Lewis, UNISON organiser said,
“I’ve never known an organisation behave in such a dreadful way towards its own employees. Stripping staff of the equivalent of £15,000 over the next five years has sent sickness absence soaring.
“Employees are desperately worrying whether they can pay the bills. There’s absolutely no money for a social life and holidays have been cancelled. These are people who are helping the most vulnerable in our community.
“Our members want to feel valued and be recognised for the work they do. We have shown our willingness to engage with Bron Afon, suspending our last planned strike to allow for talks at ACAS. Unfortunately, there was no sense throughout the discussions that senior managers understood the hurt they have caused their employees.
“Bron Afon isn’t listening to its members of staff; its service users; the local MP and Assembly Member who joined us on the picket line, or to the wonderful support we’ve received from Torfaen residents. Everyone wants Bron Afon to resolve this dispute quickly by paying support workers fairly.”
Notes to editors
- Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds and Assembly Member Lynne Neagle joined striking support workers on the picket line on Monday 24 July.
- Thursday’s action of five day’s industrial action follows four 24-hour stoppages, starting on Thursday 13 July. UNISON has advised staff will also be taking action short of strike action throughout the period.
- The UNISON picket line on Thursday 17 August and Friday 18 August will be at the entrance to Bron Afon on William Brown Close, Llantarnum Industrial Park, Cwmbran NP443AB from 7.00am until 10.00am.
- 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
- 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.
- Bron Afon provides affordable housing (as a social landlord), support services to tenants, maintenance and individual care support (not all tenants require assistance).
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer 07816 53 83 97