Unite attacks Government's 'choice' agenda

Competition for contracts is leading to poor pay and conditions for charity workers, says Rachael Maskell

Politicians and public bodies are using the mantra of ‘choice' to reduce charity employees' pay and undermine services, according to trade union Unite.

Rachael Maskell, Unite's national officer for the not-for-profit sector, told the union's community, youth workers and not-for-profit conference in Brighton last week that choice was confined to the few, not the many.

She said that by creating a culture of competition designed to keep costs down, the Government was encouraging charities to cut staff pay and benefits to unacceptable levels.

"The use of a nebulous word such as ‘choice' implies improved quality services for clients and service users when, in fact, the opposite is true," she said.

"The ‘choice' is with the commissioners, not the service users and staff. The current ‘choice' is between decent pay and conditions or more cuts and a race to the bottom."

Maskell revived Unite's attack on charity chief executives' pay by saying the fact that more than 50 charity leaders had annual pay packages of more than £100,000 while many staff earned little more than the minimum wage was evidence of the "ugly face of the choice culture".


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