Care staff employed by Dorset company Tricuro are to stage a silent protest outside county council offices in Dorchester later today (Thursday), over plans that could see some employees lose as much as £2,600 a year.
Tricuro was set up just over a year ago by Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth councils to provide care to elderly and disabled residents across the county. It plans to cut the wages its low-paid staff receive for working at the weekend or on public holidays.
Poor planning by the three councils regarding Tricuro’s initial business plan has left the company with a £1.3m hole in its budget, says UNISON. The plan omitted key cost pressures like future pay rises and the increase in employers’ national insurance contributions.
Tricuro’s response was to announce cuts to weekend and bank holiday pay rates for staff, despite promises made by councilors when the company was formed that there would be no wage cuts.
UNISON – which represents the 400 employees directly affected by the changes – is calling on Tricuro’s three local authority owners to face up to the problem and enter negotiations involving ACAS, in an attempt to solve the dispute.
UNISON South West head of local government Gavin Brooks said: “When Tricuro was set up last year, care staff were promised that the transfer from the councils wouldn’t mean any loss in pay. Now, barely 12 months on, it is trying to break this promise.
“To make matters worse, Tricuro managers have been effectively waving P45s at these staff, threatening them with the sack if they refuse to agree to the changes.
“Tricuro staff work long hours looking after vulnerable elderly and disabled people across the county. They deserve better than to be intimidated in this way. These low-paid workers rely on the extra cash they get for working unsocial hours to make ends meet.”
UNISON Dorset County Council assistant branch secretary Ken Attwooll said: “Tricuro’s council owners could easily solve this problem without hurting staff. The company is claiming it’s cash-strapped, but it was able hand back £280,000 to council shareholders last year.
“Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole councils must recognise that a decent care service requires investment in staff. This is about fulfilling a promise made and properly valuing the essential service care workers provide. The councils must join Tricuro in talks with the union through ACAS and resolve this unnecessary dispute.”
Care staff – some of whom earn as little as £14,000 a year – will be holding ‘Keep Your Promise’ placards outside County Hall in Dorchester from 8am today (Thursday). The dispute is set to be raised at a full council meeting that starts at 10am.
Notes to editors:
– In July 2015 Tricuro was established as a local authority trading company, owned by Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth councils.
– Managers were due to issue dismissal notices to staff on 31 October, but UNISON complained and the company stepped back.
– Under the proposed changes an assistant cook working on Saturdays stands to lose up to £666 a year, and a care assistant working Sundays up to £836. Night staff who do a double shift at the weekend could be down as much as £2,600 a year.
– Staff were given eight days to agree the changes and were told that if they didn’t voluntarily do so, it would “be necessary to move to a formal process of dismissal”, and that letters would go out at the end of October.
Media contacts: UNISON South West Fred Jerrome T: 0117 968 9452 M: 07816 538199 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: email@example.com