Thousands of voluntary sector youth and community workers should receive a substantial pay rise, according to a group of trade unions.
The group, which includes Unite, Unison, the National Union of Teachers and the University and College Union, has made a submission to the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers, which sets pay rates for youth and community workers.
The committee includes representatives from voluntary sector umbrella bodies the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services as well as local government.
The group of unions said pay in the youth and community sector was well behind the average graduate salary. It said new graduate pay in the sector was lagging about £7,000 behind the average graduate starting pay of £27,000 a year.
Doug Nicholls, national secretary for the community and youth workers industrial sector at Unite, said high-calibre workers were needed to help alleviate the effects of the recession on young people.
"To attract and retain staff in the profession, you need a substantial pay rise," he said. "The employers need to think long and hard during this six-week consultation period how they are going to tackle the pay problem and the wider issue of social cohesion."