youth workers decide


The Community and Youth Workers Union (CYWU) will be holding its annual conference in the city of Derry between 29 April and 2 May, the first time it has been held in a venue outside mainland Britain.

The conference will be held only two days after the union takes strike action for the first time in its long history. Union members on Joint Negotiating Committee terms and conditions (conditions that determine the pay and conditions of community and youth workers and link them to qualifications) will be holding a national one-day strike on 27 April after a long and protracted dispute with their employers. The union is calling for a significant pay rise above 3% for its members, the introduction of a new pay scale for advanced practitioners, and is opposing the employers' proposals to set the level of professional qualification at NVQ Level 2, equivalent to a GCSE.

CYWU General Secretary Doug Nicholls said, "Three percent for most of our members means about 30p an hour rise and for the highest paid 47p an hour. Many of our members work with young people who earn more than them. We have seen a 30% increase in our workloads and also a welcome 5.9% increase in this year's youth and community service government funding to local authorities."

Nicholls continued: "But local authorities are not spending the full amounts. They have enough underspent money to build new centres and give all staff a 10% pay rise. With 191,000 young people still not in education, training or employment, youth work skills are in great demand, as are community work skills with so many neighbourhood renewal schemes. Yet our members, who used to be on a salary par with teachers, now start work on £4,000 a year less than their teaching colleagues. In addition, the country needs 4,000 more youth workers to meet the government's staffing ratio targets."

The union was disappointed when in October the employers' side dissolved in order to form a reconstituted committee. This led to a lack of any negotiation until March this year. The disappointment was compounded when after months without negotiation the majority of the staff side were exactly the same as in the previous group.

Although the conference is likely to be dominated by issues around the pay dispute, delegates, who include play workers, learning mentors and personal advisors as well as youth and community workers, will be debating a range of issues including the government's "Every Child Matters" green paper, working conditions within the sector, the future of the union and the proposed EU constitution.