Care worker campaigners celebrate as Manchester City Council commits to pay Living Wage

Manchester care workers have reacted with joy to Manchester City Council’s announcement that they will require the Foundation Living Wage (£9.90) as a minimum starting salary for all directly employed and commissioned care and support workers in the city.

A group of care workers and UNISON members met with Council Leader Bev Craig and Deputy Leader Joanna Midgley earlier this week to make the case that all care workers deserve to be paid at least the Living Wage rate.

At this meeting, Cllr Bev Craig told the care workers that funding would be included in the city’s 22/23 budget to ensure that all council commissioned care workers are paid Foundation Living Wage rates. Manchester City Council is joining the ranks of Oldham Council, Salford City Council and Rochdale Council who have also agreed to the campaigners’ demands.

This meeting followed on from two lobbies of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meetings in December 2021 and February 2022. At these lobbies, care workers from the Greater Manchester Care Workers Demand A Pay Rise campaign told council leaders and regional Mayor Andy Burnham how low pay negatively effects their lives.

During one of the lobbies, the care workers presented a petition to local authority leaders. The petition has received more than 4500 signatures so far.

When the council announces its budget next Friday (4th), care worker campaigners plan to gather at Manchester Town Hall to celebrate the success of their campaign.

Nuria, a support worker and UNISON member in Manchester said: “Knowing we will get the Living Wage has made me feel more valued and boosted my motivation, which will have a positive impact on the people I support.

“I love being a support worker but I considered leaving the sector due to the bad pay- this pay rise means I will be able to stay on this sector.”

Paula, a supported living worker and UNISON member in Manchester said: “I love my job as a mental health support worker, no one day is ever the same. The challenges and responsibilities are huge.

“Meeting with Cllr Bev Craig and being given assurance from her on behalf of the city council that from April we will receive the real Living wage was a massive morale boost. This feels like the beginning of being recognised for the invaluable work we do!”

Carl Greatbatch, UNISON Manchester branch secretary said: “We commend the leadership of Manchester City Council for supporting our care workers’ vital campaign.

“UNISON welcomes the informal announcement made by Cllr Bev Craig that the council will guarantee commissioned care workers are paid the real Living Wage- we look forward to its formal confirmation next week.”

Bolton and Stockport Councils have so far shown no willingness to agree to fund the Living Wage for all care workers. Whilst Trafford, Tameside, Wigan and Bury Councils have indicated that they will pay the Living Wage from 2023/24- a year later than Manchester. Campaigners say that this is not soon enough.

Jill, a home care worker and UNISON member in Tameside said: “I’m a single parent and when the pandemic started, I had to start using a food bank. Nearly two years on, I'm still using the food bank. We need a pay rise and we need it now or there’s going to be no care workers left.

UNISON North West Social Care Lead Dan Smith said: “Manchester City Council’s decision further demonstrates that it is within Greater Manchester councils’ power to ensure that frontline workers can afford to provide for their families. 

“We call on the remaining six councils in the city region to take responsibility and kick poverty wages out of social care now. The cost of living crisis is waiting for no-one and delaying a pay rise until 2023 will push even more brilliant care workers out of the industry.

“Greater Manchester care workers are speaking at events, launching petitions, lobbying politicians and organising together across the city. Standing together in their union, care workers are powerful and their strength is forcing decision makers to take notice. We will continue our campaign until every care worker in Greater Manchester is paid a Living Wage.”

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