UNISON reported today that care workers, registered nurses, and residential home personnel employed by Bristol-based care provider St Monica Trust have declared a series of strike dates in response to threats of dismissal unless they accept a salary decrease (Friday).
According to the union, more than 100 workers at four care facilities in the south west of England were warned in March that they had to accept substandard new contracts or face being sacked, which would cost them thousands of pounds a year and reduce their sick pay.
The first strike against the plans will take place on June 29, with other protests scheduled for July 2, 5, 10, and 11.
According to UNISON, strikes will take place in the trust’s care homes in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset.
Despite a nationwide scarcity of experienced care employees, trust administrators have targeted the longest-serving and most experienced workers at the facilities – the Russets and Sherwood, John Wills House, Charter House, and Garden House – for the sharpest cuts, according to UNISON.
According to the union, the salary threat is effectively forcing workers to alternative care firms, and perhaps out of the field entirely.
Senior care workers’ weekend pay will be slashed by 21% under the plans, while other employees will get a 10% wage decrease, according to the union.
This translates to a monthly pay cut of nearly £400, according to UNISON, as the cost-of-living issue worsens.
Personnel are also angry that, while they are facing wage cutbacks, the trust is advertising for agency staff at a cost of £16.81 per hour, which is £7 more than what workers in similar professions presently receive, according to UNISON.
Families of residents in the employees’ care have been enraged by the trust’s ‘fire and rehire’ procedures, according to the union, and are dissatisfied that their costs have grown while salaries have been slashed.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Going on strike is always the last option. But when an employer is determined to cut the wages of already low-paid care staff in the middle of the cost-of-living catastrophe, employees have little choice but to take action.
“Relatives of those in care are rightly worried about what these changes will mean. Agency staff who don’t know or understand their loved ones will be parachuted in to replace experienced workers. Levels of care will fall and costs will go up.
“Threatening staff with the sack if they don’t agree to savage cuts is short-sighted and cruel.
“Trust claims that some will be better off is a fig leaf to cover the depth of cuts for the most experienced staff. All workers deserve to be paid fairly.
“The trust must reverse its decision now for the good of residents and staff.”