A public services union has criticised Ceredigion County councillors’ failure to unanimously back a recommendation to substantially boost care workers’ pay to tackle a recruitment crisis.

Councillor Lyndon Lloyd’s proposal to use council reserves to increase care staff pay to £15 per hour - to address the high number of care vacancies - did not win the support of some of his colleagues.

Responding to last week's report in the Tivy-Side, UNISON Cymru Wales says care work is completely undervalued and many staff suffer in-work poverty and rely on Universal Credit to survive.

UNISON said that most care in Ceredigion is provided for the council by private and non-profit companies, where typically care staff earn the minimum wage of £8.91 per hour.

The wages of care workers employed directly by the council fall just below £9.50 per hour – the rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation as sufficient to keep people out of poverty.

The union says it’s time for councillors to have an honest debate about how public service workers, who keep the community running, should be much better rewarded.

As well as care work, UNISON highlights the very low wages of school support staff and many others providing key services which need to be addressed.

Local government workers were offered a pay rise of 1.75 per cent this year, well below the rate of inflation and effectively a pay cut in real terms. UNISON members voted to reject this offer.

Alison Boshier, UNISON Ceredigion branch secretary, said: “Local people really valued the dedication of public service workers throughout the Covid lockdown, but they’ve no idea how poorly care workers and school support staff are paid.

“It’s no wonder there’s recruitment crisis in care work. There’s a huge responsibility in supporting vulnerable people, yet they’re wages are scandal.

“But it’s not just Ceredigion’s care staff who need a pay rise, so many council workers tell me they are struggling to pay their bills after a decade of pay freezes or low pay awards.”

Simon Dunn, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser, said: “Care workers must be treated with dignity and respect and Councillor Lloyd was right to call for a big boost to their wages and for the council to allocate significantly more money to care services.

“UNISON would welcome discussions with the council to improve the pay of all local government staff who did such a great job keeping services going throughout the pandemic.

“Council workers’ earnings across the country have shrunk by 25 per cent in real terms since 2010 and energy bills and other costs are rocketing.

"UNISON members rejected a below inflation pay offer of 1.75 per cent and we’ll be balloting them for industrial action in support of their campaign for a fair pay rise.”

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