WORKERS at Bron Afon will strike for a further three days next week in protest at the decision to reduce annual salaries by more than £3,000.

UNISON has criticised the decision by Bron Afon to slash wages for the majority of staff in its supported living team from £23,572 to £20,416.

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

Workers from the supported living team, provide assistance to vulnerable people over the age of 50 in their own homes. They also provide practical support to those with mental health issues and addictions.

Some workers - who were on the picket line Thursday and yesterday - will now strike on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rosie Lewis, of UNISON, said: “I’ve never known an organisation behave in such a dreadful way towards its own employees.

“Employees are desperately worrying whether they can pay the bills. There’s absolutely no money for a social life and holidays have been cancelled. These are people who are helping the most vulnerable in our community.

“Our members want to feel valued and be recognised for the work they do. We have shown our willingness to engage with Bron Afon, suspending our last planned strike to allow for talks at ACAS. Unfortunately, there was no sense throughout the discussions that senior managers understood the hurt they have caused their employees."

She added: “Everyone wants Bron Afon to resolve this dispute quickly by paying support workers fairly.”

Cath Pullin, head of inclusion and support at Bron Afon, said she was "very disappointed" that despite three sessions of extensive talks UNISON had rejected offers.

She said: "UNISON has rejected our offers to resolve the dispute, resulting in a further ten days of strike action, which began today.

“This dispute is not about pay cuts. The old, temporary jobs on fixed term contracts came to an end in March 2017 when a previous contract Bron Afon held ended. These were new jobs, which staff chose to apply for knowing the salary and terms and conditions.

“Along with the new contract came a new structure designed by the team. We were able to offer new permanent jobs with new salaries, which are very competitive compared to similar roles locally and have kept all other excellent terms and conditions.

“In terms of numbers of staff involved, there are 19 people in the team and just eight of the team have new permanent roles, which they chose to apply for and which pay less than the fixed term role they held under the previous contract that ended in March 2017.

“Two staff on permanent contracts retained their existing pay and terms and conditions, one member of staff chose to move to a lower paid role. Two members of staff applied for and were appointed to higher paid roles.

“UNISON had already rejected what we believed was a generous offer.  Throughout talks, we tried to meet their requests to increase salaries - which are already at the top end of the market for these roles.  We offered an increase in salary to our support officers of an additional £1,293 backdated to April, together with an immediate, non-consolidated payment of £300. All other terms and conditions were maintained, including generous pension, annual leave, and health cash-back plan.

“What we believe to be a very generous offer, which demonstrated our commitment to resolve this dispute, was rejected.  UNISON asked for significant increases, which are simply not affordable within the contract funding.   We are also facing a significant reduction in funding next year as a result of how the contract is constructed, so any additional pressure on the funding this year may mean jobs will need to go in future years to balance the books - something we want to avoid if at all possible and we’ve made that clear to UNISON.”