UNISON action wins thousands for therapists

Occupational therapists employed by Swansea council are to receive a bumper settlement of thousands of pounds after the authority acknowledged UNISON was correct to insist the therapists were significantly underpaid when compared to NHS peers. Each therapist will now receive a sum worth nearly £5,000 per year for the next five years.

Concerted campaigning by UNISON, which included a unanimous vote for strike action amongst the therapists, will mean new rates of pay will be equivalent to the top point of Band 6 of the NHS pay scale. The council also recognised that lower pay may have deterred potential applicants from looking for occupational therapist work with them. UNISON argued that council therapists work directly alongside NHS therapists and perform the same duties and therefore a discrepancy in wages of over £4,600 could not be justified.

UNISON organiser Eddie Gabrielsen said,

“For our therapists, this was about principle and self-worth and council’s concession confirms that UNISON was right to take a firm stand. Local government employees working alongside NHS peers undertaking the same role should be paid the same wage. Occupational therapists right across Welsh local government, not only in Swansea, suffer lower pay and poorer access to professional development opportunities than their colleagues in the health service. UNISON will continue to campaign to ensure they receive due parity.”