Despite facing significant cuts, Salford Council is giving carers a significant pay hike. But it follows dedicated campaigning by workers and local activists.
If there’s one sector that’s consistently undervalued – with working conditions consistently downgraded – it’s the care sector. But one council has just bucked the trend in giving care workers a pay hike.
Salford – a city with a proudly Corbynista mayor in Paul Dennett, has just approved a 10% pay rise for its care workers.
It follows campaigning by public sector union Unison, which organises care workers across the UK.
Speaking to Left Foot Forward, a Unison official said success came through working with the local Labour party. The union submitted a motion to a local Labour branch and then the Constituency Labour Party, supporting the Ethical Care Charter.
Much of the Charter is now being implemented, and the union hopes the rest will follow. Unionised care workers had visited mayor Paul Dennett to tell them what it’s like doing care work on the front line.
Matthew Dickinson, Local Organiser for Salford City Unison, told Left Foot Forward care workers deserved the raise:
“You can get a job at Costa or Aldi and earn more money [than the care sector]: staff do it because they care.”
He added the ‘Corbyn surge’ played a role in the move:
“It’s the members who are pushing for more progressive thinking with the council. Councillors in the end have taken steps to listen to what people wanted.
“Salford’s history is in quite radical left-wing ideology. We had Trotsky and Engels here – there’s a strong tradition of helping the working class.
“Even looking at the amount of new members joining Labour since Corbyn – my branch has gone from 15 people attending to 40. It feels like there’s a paradigm shift in the way people want to see society one.”
Salford Unison differs to other branches in that they have hired a dedicated organiser for social care. Dickinson said: “I’ve been doing this job for about a year and it’s been base building – organising care workers to help themselves and stand up for themselves.”
City Mayor Paul Dennett explained the measure will cost around £725,00, funded through a three year, national government grant to help adult social care cope with unprecedented demand, as well as a crisis in recruiting and retaining care staff:
“Care workers do one of the most important jobs in society and it is only right that they should receive decent pay for it.
“This move could see care workers in Salford earning a minimum of £17,000 per year which will mean a significant boost to individual pay packets and give people extra money to spend in our local economy. It will also help with the challenge of recruiting and retaining good staff to care for our most vulnerable people.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the move:
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 6, 2017
If Salford council can use their grant to do this, there’s little reason why others can’t. But it will take pressure from staff and activists on the ground – working with progressive politicians.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.