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Unions standing up the youth workers of today

JANUARY 21, 2020

Unions representing youth and community workers across England and Wales have called for an end to the fall in youth worker pay, after years of real terms pay cuts sees wages shrink by 17% in six years.

The NUT, UCU, Unite and UNISON, which represent staff on the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for youth and community workers, last month lodged their joint annual pay claim calling for a £1,000 pay rise on all pay grades and allowances from September 2015 in a bid to reverse the decline.

The pay claim also calls for the bottom rung of the pay scale to be scrapped to bring it above the hourly real living wage rate of £7.85 (£9.15 in London).

Youth and community workers have suffered an unprecedented 17% fall in wages as a direct result of the government’s pay policy of pay freezes and squeezes since 2010.

Staff side unions are also urging the Local Government Association (LGA) not to abandon the national bargaining agreement, JNC ‘Pink Book’, for youth and community staff over fears that the plans will seriously undermine the terms and conditions, professional standing of youth workers and in turn affect the quality of youth services.

The joint campaign kicks off today with a #PayUp4YouthWork Thunderclap to promote and defend youth services and the JNC agreement.

Unite national officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The employers need to get a grip and tackle the shocking fall in youth worker pay. Our members deserve nothing less. Our claim for a flat rate pay rise of £1,000 on all pay spines doesn’t make up for the shocking 17% fall in youth worker pay since 2010, but it will show that the employers value and recognise the vital role youth workers play.”

UNISON deputy head of local government Mike Short said: “Staff working in youth services have been hit hard by a combination of cuts in services, threats to jobs, and a succession of pay cuts and pay freezes. The value of youth work staff’s pay has fallen significantly in recent years, and they deserve recognition for the fantastic work they do, working with young people to help give them a positive start in adult life. Our pay claim is fair and it is affordable.”

NUT acting general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The NUT supports the ‘pay up for youth work’ campaign.  Like teachers, community and youth workers need a significant pay increase.”

The pay claim also urges employers to join with staff to mount a ‘strong campaign’ to defend youth services and to issue joint guidance to local authorities, clarifying and reminding them of their pensions provision responsibilities under the JNC agreement.

The JNC is a unique collective bargaining body that has been central to the growth of youth services and the development of youth work since 1961. It includes extra annual leave entitlement in recognition of the stressful and unsocial hours associated with youth work.

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