Social workers must receive a living wage promised by the Welsh Government, says UNISON

CARE workers in Wales must receive the real living wage as promised earlier this year by the Welsh government, says public services union UNISON.

UNISON, which is the largest union representing social workers in Wales, is calling on all social workers to contact them if they are not yet receiving the actual living wage of £9.90 per hour which the Welsh Government has announced earlier this year.

Progress on living wages should only be a first step for the predominantly female workforce, many of whom live in working poverty.

This wage increase does not come from the private sector of third sector care providers and employers and care employers then do not provide wage increases on top of the actual living wage.

Denise Thomas, community support worker, said: ‘At the start of the pandemic, everyone came together to applaud the caregivers.

“It is only fair that care workers are recognized by getting a pay rise that will allow them to absorb the rising cost of living.

“The sector is working hard to care for the most vulnerable in our society, and it’s time we supported those who often work around the clock with pay equal to the work they do.”

Mark Turner, care manager at UNISON Cymru/Wales, said care workers across the UK feel undervalued and exploited.

He said: “The Welsh Government has funded employers to pay social workers in Wales a minimum of the actual living wage (currently £9.90) from April this year.

“Most social workers will start receiving the new rate in June, retroactive to April. It is important for carers to check their payslips to see the impact of the new rate.

“UNISON is concerned that some employers are not passing this on to their staff. The Real Living Wage is a start, but UNISON continues to fight for better pay, conditions and a voice for social workers.

UNISON encourages all social workers to ask their employer if they are receiving the actual living wage.

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Mr Turner added: ‘If you are unhappy with the response, contact UNISON with your membership number, place of work and name of employer by emailing reallivingwagewales@unison.co.uk.’

In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that all eligible social workers in Wales receive the real living wage and have invested over £43million to help us achieve this. .

“We also provided an additional £96m earlier this year as an additional payment of £1,498 to social workers, aligned with the actual living wage.

“We will continue to work closely with everyone involved in the care sector to develop further improvements to terms and conditions for social workers, career pathways and to ensure people get the pay they deserve.”

Michael A. Bynum