Charity cuts put vulnerable people at risk, Unison warns

6th May 2011 at 01:00

Thousands of care staff, including a number of classroom assistants, are facing redundancy and big pay cuts after several charities announced plans to make savings.

Vulnerable young people will suffer most from the waves of cuts starting to hit Scotland, public-sector union Unison has warned.

One Scottish charity, Quarriers, has issued 90 days' notice to all its 2,000 staff, although it insists that the aim is to find ways of keeping jobs.

Redundancy letters have also been sent to the Cora Foundation, which runs three of the country's five secure units: St Philip's in North Lanarkshire, St Mary's Kenmure in East Dunbartonshire, and the Good Shepherd in Renfrewshire.

Unison says that if Cora's secure units close, then the courts will be left with no option but to send young offenders to institutions such as Polmont, at a much greater cost to the taxpayer.

It has also attacked moves by youth justice charity Includem to impose a 9.5 per cent pay cut on its staff.

Unison represents many classroom assistants, including staff at Quarriers and the Cora Foundation. Regional organiser Simon Macfarlane said the threats to jobs and salaries would fuel the concerns of classroom assistants throughout Scotland that they were particularly vulnerable to cuts.

"Our members work hard to provide services that make a huge difference to the lives of young people and cutting them will only store up problems for generations to come," he said. "Services for our vulnerable young people are vanishing and, once these services are destroyed, they will take a long time to recover."

Quarriers - which was set up in 1871 to give homes to orphaned and destitute children in Scotland - aims to cut its staffing budget by pound;2.5 million, twice its previous estimate, Unison says. Discussions over the next three months will consider a pay reduction for all staff - by 20 per cent according to Unison - as well as removal of sick pay for the first three days of illness, and the reduction of maternity, paternity and adoption pay to the statutory minimum.

Chief executive Paul Moore said: "The proposed changes are designed to protect jobs and services. There is no doubt we, like many others, are facing more challenging times ahead, but we are determined to find solutions which will help the organisation to continue to deliver first- class care for some of the most vulnerable people in the country."

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk.

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