UNISON North West has secured the Foundation Living Wage for all care workers commissioned by Liverpool Council. The wage increase will come into place in April 2024.
UNISON’s Stand Up for Social Care campaign began when the union conducted research to see which councils were paying carers above the living wage.
After securing the living wage for carers across the greater Manchester area, increasing pay for around 25,000 carers, the union’s organisers set their sights on Merseyside.
There are six councils within Merseyside: Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, Halton and St. Helens. With Wirral already paying the living wage, UNISON members began a campaign targeting the others in October 2022.
In late 2022, UNISON members presented a 3,000-strong petition to the metro mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotherham, alongside leaders from the six other councils. Members then began lobbying all five councils in the region by attending local meetings.
Knowsley has introduced the Foundation Living Wage, paid into carers’ wages from April 2023, and Liverpool has committed to deliver the wage by April 2024.
UNISON regional organiser, Dan Smith, said: “Care workers are some of the most exploited workers in the public sector. They are overworked and under-paid, with the vast majority employed by private providers who prioritise profits over paying their staff a decent wage.
“UNISON members working in care in the North West have shown it doesn’t have to be like this. By coming together over the last 18 months to fight for fair reward and recognition, they’ve taken action and built pressure to win the Foundation Living Wage at over 60% of local councils in the region. The latest commitment by Liverpool City Council will help boost pay for thousands of workers – and shows other councils across the country have the ability to act now.
“We don’t have to wait for a change in government for change. Local councils have it in their power now to increase care worker pay. Care workers in UNISON won’t stop campaigning until all councils in our region pay the Foundation Living Wage as a minimum starting salary.”
UNISON member and support worker Annie said: “This achievement has given me faith that, when workers come together with a common demand and goal, we can achieve things. Never give up the fight.
“Fair pay and working conditions aren’t a given, we have to be constantly fighting and we should celebrate this as a win and take this as encouragement to continue working towards fairer pay and conditions.”
UNISON national officer Gavin Edwards said: “UNISON is totally committed to improving the working conditions in social care. As the biggest union in the sector it is our responsibility to push for a better deal for care workers.
“Our regions and branches are doing a fantastic job at this, but the government must act nationally. That’s why UNISON has launched a ground breaking campaign for a National Care Service in England to finally fund and structure this vital public service properly. This includes pushing for national pay and conditions for all care workers.”