Monday, 11 August 2014

Care Workers vote for strike action

Care Workers on 90% majority to take strike action
BARNET UNISON has concluded a ballot of care workers based on a slightly improved “offer” from Your Choice Barnet (YCB) following the close of negotiations in mid-July. The offer still means our members would lose 8.31% from their wages rather than 9.5%. It still represents a swingeing cut to their wages at a time when other workers up and down the country have rejected a1% per cent pay rise. On a 73% turnout 90% voted in favour of taking action to reinstate their pay.

During the negotiations YCB was very open regarding their finances. Even if our members took this hit on their wages now, YCB couldnot guarantee this would be an end to the cuts in pay even in the short term. Indeed their proposed budget for the next year breaks even only if they pay nothing on the loan from Barnet Homes. YCB confirmed in the negotiations this left a huge funding gap. This lack of reassurance from YCB that they would not be coming back for more cuts undoubtedly contributed to the resounding rejection of the latestpay cut.
What the negotiations did reveal is thescandalous charging arrangements foisted onto YCB, which make it difficult to see how YCB can befinancially viable in the future without making the workers’ pay an even heftier price. Significantly where a service user fails to turn up to the day service e.g. because they are sick, YCBcannot charge for the service. Yet YCB will have organised their staffing based on those service users turning up and have to bear the brunt of those staffing costs when the service user does not appear. Many service users need 1 to 1 support. The failure to turn up or “no shows” costs YCB a significant loss of income. This significant sum of money would go a long way torestoring our members’ wages. Barnet Council is refusing to pay YCB for these “no shows” and yet this is a company whollyowned by Barnet Council!
Our members pointed to the fact that if they were to cancel their child’s childcare arrangements without a week’s notice, they are still charged. For any course, you have to pay up front and turn up or lose the money. So if we are to adopt an “oh-so- very-private-sector” ethos how can this charging arrangement for YCB be allowed?
UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess said:
'If we are to avoid strike action we need urgent talks betweenBarnet Council and Your Choice Barnet. It is clear that thecurrent payment mechanism & lack of referrals from the Council are severely hindering the financial viability of YCB. It beggars belief that the Task & Finish Group in November 2013 failed to spot the glaring financial crisis haunting YCB. To carry on as is,is not an option, either there is a three way meeting in order to come to an arrangement whereby YCB has a real futureor the Council honours its promise to return the service in house. It isunacceptable that service users, parents/carer and our members should have to continue to bear the brunt of failed business case imposed on them by Barnet Council.'

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