HOUSING association workers were on strike again today after rejecting what they called an “unacceptable” one-off payment from their employer.

Workers for Bron Afon’s supported living team - who provide assistance to vulnerable people - say they have turned down a £500 one-off payment to solve salary disputes and will strike again today.

In July, we reported how some workers, and their union, Unison, had criticised the Cwmbran-based business for slashing the wages of the majority of staff in its supported living team from £23,572 to £20,416.

The trade union claimed that the housing association cut salaries and increased working hours after winning a £540,000 contract.

Yesterday, staff members said they were offered a one-off payment of £500 by the housing association to end the dispute.

Cheryl Morgan, the branch secretary of Torfaen Unison, said workers needed a salary rise, not a one-off payment.

“We’ve decided to take industrial action to support our members,” she added.

“We’re finding it very frustrating. We are looking to enter further talks and I hope it gets resolved. If it doesn’t we’ll be back out next Thursday.

“We did have talks with Bron Afon and they came up with a £500 one-off payment but obviously we didn’t think a lot of it.”

She added: “The argument is that the salaries have been cut and the workers need a pay rise.”

A worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s true that they have offered us a one-off £500 but our salaries would remain the same.

“We’re losing about £3,000 a year because of this new contract. £500 is an insult.

“We reject it because we need a solution that is sustainable.”

Another worker, who also wished to remain unnamed, added: “Bron Afon is not understanding why we have taken this action. We were striking last month over the pay cut and it still isn’t sorted.

“£500 is outrageous and we won’t accept it.

“All we’re asking is for our salaries to not be cut.”

She added: “We were striking yesterday and will do again today.”

Cath Pullin, of inclusion and support at Bron Afon, said: “We are making every effort to resolve this dispute. We have offered staff what we firmly believe can be realistically afforded, right now, within the budget we have for the supported living service.

“We have given staff our firm commitment to look at the financial position of the service again next March.

“It would be very irresponsible of us to commit to something that we cannot afford within the external funding which pays for the service.

“If we did that we would put the whole service and jobs within it at risk. We remain hopeful that UNISON and its members will recognise the funding constraints that apply to this service.”

Ms Pullin confirmed £500 had been offered to all members of staff, adding: “We have moved our position several times to try to do what we can and the offer to all staff in the supported living service is an immediate one-off payment of £500 per person for all staff in the service - not just those who were balloted for strike action, to ensure fairness and equity.”