Pay up - or lose youth and community as public services

General Secretary Doug Nicholls gave a stark warning to the employers in both local authorities and the voluntary sector, “value the core JNC related youth and community workers by raising pay, or watch youth work and community development taken over by poorly qualified amateurs in fragmented, short term agencies.”

This year’s pay claim calls for a renewed valuing of our work which is central to the success of Connexions, the unfolding youth policy framework and for neighbourhood renewal. Social inclusion can’t be achieved by the untrained and the poorly paid.”

More work, lower pay
“I am deeply worried that the new money around is chasing badly organised new projects with poorly prepared staff. Young people are increasingly at risk and the failure of the agencies to recognise the need for proper qualifications and the adoption of a clear Code of Ethics is very dangerous indeed. We need to ensure that JNC rates are lifted this year to a professional level and that standards are maintained in all service providers. This will mean that government and charitable funding bodies should become more conscious of the need to assess the commitment in grant applications to paying the nationally negotiated rates for the job. Without a framework of collective bargaining and commitment to quality training Connexions will falter even more. We have got more of a haemorrhage out of the service than a simple recruitment and retention problem.

Real campaign for equality of opportunity
“Our commitment to equal opportunities as a union is not just a rhetorical gesture. Communities in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford deserve highly skilled youth and community workers in their midst developing anti racist and capacity building programmes. You can’t do this on the cheap and through short term projects employing untrained staff.

“If the full importance of our professions and the JNC Grading Matrix and related training are to be recognised, our pay campaign is vital this year”

Quality training, quality endorsement guidelines
Condemning the National Youth Agency’s attempt to re write the initial training endorsement guidelines the General Secretary added, “In the name of standards, standards are in danger of being lowered and criteria for the examination of courses diluted and confused. Community work and youth work are in danger of being split at the point of training and future generations consigned to the kind of pre JNC free market that almost killed youth work and community work in the late fifties. It is time for the workers in the field to really set the pace for progressive change in our sector. The unelected quangos have dominated too long. Those closest to practice must set the policy agenda. Support the pay campaign. Support next year’s lobby of Parliament. Replace those denying the value of our profession.”

(Members are instructed to maintain the work to contract. All Branch officers have received a full briefing on the pay negotiations and the JNC next meets on September 17th. A full briefing on industrial action and the law has been circulated to all Branch Officers. Members are asked to hold November 24t free in their diaries in case of a special salaries Conference).

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