UNISON members working for Shaw Healthcare have been forced to accept changes to their contracts or face being fired and rehired.
Carers will no longer have a paid 30-minute break and their shifts have been extended by half an hour. Shaw has also banned staff from eating prepared food with residents at meal times, which was a contractual right. Now staff will be allowed to eat ‘leftovers’ if they pay.
Shaw executives have so far refused to negotiate with UNISON Cymru/Wales representatives. On Tuesday 11 April, the union wrote an open letter to Powys County Council warning the authority that its care contractor’s bullying behaviour is completely unacceptable and the firm must be reprimanded.
An anonymous care worker told the Brecon and Radnor Express: “In all honesty, we have been held over a barrel. They are targeting the lowest paid and now we’re getting a pay cut – we are paid for seven hours, but they are asking us to work seven and a half hours. When the company told me I felt sick.
“We know what we mean to the residents and we always put them first. We gave up seeing our own families to look after them during COVID so when, as a parting shot, the company asked us to think of the service, I just didn’t feel like a valued member of staff.”
John Byrne, UNISON Powys County branch secretary, said: “Shaw Healthcare is exploiting hard working staff, who are already low-paid. Care workers give everything to support people in our community, but their employer has been bullying them to give up their rights.
“These are local jobs and it is right for the council to investigate and ensure all care workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Ultimately, directly provided council care services are the best guarantee of standards for staff and services users.”
The care firm alleges the employment conditions of staff must be slashed if it is to win a renewed contract with the local authority.
UNISON has also written to the deputy minister for social care, Julie Morgan, to complain about Shaw Healthcare. It says the care commissioning process has failed and the need to generate a profit is the barrier to improved care services in Wales.