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Bron Afon workers strike against £3,000 pay cut
Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
Support workers for Bron Afon housing association in Cwmbran, south Wales, have taken their third day of strike action against a £3,000 annual pay cut imposed by management on the staff in the Supported Living Team.
The workers 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 for those with mental health issues, addictions and those who have experienced domestic abuse.
But when Bron Afon renegotiated its contract with Torfaen council, it cut the workers' wages from £23,572 to £20,416 and increased the workload. Increasing client numbers under the new contract means staff are having to work even harder for significantly less pay.
The mood was high on the picket line on 21 July as workers from other Unison branches and Cardiff and Newport trade union councils mobilised to support them on their third strike day.
If Bron Afon can get away with cutting wages as the funding cuts bite then that will set the bench mark for care companies and other housing associations to follow in a race to the bottom of wage levels and working conditions.
Torfaen council, which has councillors on the Bron Afon board, is getting a service from Bron Afon workers at cut-price wage levels.
The strike at Bron Afon emphasises the dangers of the outsourcing epidemic that has engulfed Welsh council workers. Most of the councils boast of being living wage employers, including Torfaen, but this claim is completely undermined as all the councils in Wales, mostly Labour councils, are forcing down the wages of outsourced workers.
The next strike date is 3 August. You can send messages of support to Unison members at Bron Afron - send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read more at socialistpartywales.org.uk/news328