Care staff begin strike over fire and rehire plans

Workers have been left with no choice but to take action

Staff employed by Bristol-based care company St Monica Trust are to begin a series of strikes today (Wednesday) over threats to sack them if they don’t accept a pay cut, says UNISON. ​

As many as 100 care workers, registered nurses and residential home staff are expected to take to the streets outside the trust’s four care homes across South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset, UNISON says. Further action is planned for 2, 5, 10 and 11 July.

Despite a deepening care worker recruitment crisis and against the wishes of the families of residents, trust bosses are pushing ahead with plans that will see the most experienced and longest serving staff hit with massive salary cuts or forced out of the sector, says UNISON.

Senior care workers are to have their weekend pay rates slashed by 21% and other staff face a 10% pay cut, despite winning praise for their work keeping elderly residents safe during the pandemic, the union says. Some employees face losing more than £3,000 a year, adds UNISON.

Agency workers recruited by the trust are being paid significantly more than full-time staff, says UNISON. In some cases they are getting an additional £7 an hour, despite not knowing the residents or their individual and complex needs, the union adds.

UNISON says striking staff also face cuts to their sick pay and reductions in working hours – after bosses imposed unpaid breaks during shifts.

The trust’s heavy-handed approach is forcing staff out of the care sector towards better paid, less stressful work in retail and hospitality, says UNISON.

Bristol North West Labour MP Darren Jones is supporting the strike. He will join staff and the families of residents at a rally to fight the fire and rehire plans on Saturday (2 July), UNISON says.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Staff are taking the difficult decision to strike because they have no options left.

“Despite building wonderful relationships with residents and their families, dedicated employees are being forced out of the door.

“The wellbeing of the elderly residents and their loved ones is being sacrificed in order to cut costs. It’s wrong that St Monica Trust managers are putting profit before people.

“The trust must think about the damage it is doing and abandon its fire and rehire plans.”