Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ongoing Strikes of Rochdale Care Workers

ON June 29th, we reported on a rally in Rochdale town centre in support of the Rochdale care workers, members of Unison, who had then taken 5 days strike in their efforts to get the company Future Directions to reconsider the cuts that it was imposing upon them.  We said then:
'The company, established by Calderstones NHS to deliver services at a reduced cost, took on the contract from Rochdale Council to provide supported living services in the Borough, knowing that they would be unable to maintain terms and conditions of staff. Cuts include losses to pay, removal of enhancements, reduced sick pay scheme and holiday entitlement. Nearly 100 unfair dismissal cases will be lodged for members this week (June 2013).'
Since then the dispute has rumbled on throughout the summer, and last Thursday there was a disgruntled protest by some workers at the company's headquarters as part of their recent 10-day action.  Things have been made worse by reports that some of the firm's directors have had big rises themselves.

That same evening some 60 strikers took their battle to Rochdale’s councillors at their cabinet meeting.  They marched from the Town Hall to the council’s new Riverside headquarters, and the council leader, Colin Lambert, came out to address the crowd. He offered no concrete proposals for how the strike could be resolved.

The workers have already taken 19 days of strikes in a dispute over the imposition of a new contract.
The contract imposed in April cut pay between £4,000 and £10,000, and it cuts holiday entitlement and sick pay. Under the new contract no sick pay will be paid for the first three days of sickness and the employer will pay nothing at all after a month of sickness.

Unison believes the company has broken a Tupe agreement signed in 2012 and 100 employment tribunal claims have been lodged.  Strikers are annoyed that a community interest company set up with public money is deliberately setting out to undermine wages and conditions in the social care sector. 

Future Directions, who are commissioned by Rochdale council, say the employees are being paid a fair wage, adding there is 'no more money in the contract' to barter with.  Changes to pay and terms and conditions were introduced in May to ensure employees, who Future Directions adopted from Rochdale council, the NHS and another care provider when they began running the service, were on the same contracts.

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