Up to 65 care workers with learning disabled adults are set to strike this week over a 9.5% pay cut.
The care workers are employed by Your Choice Barnet (YCB), a subsidiary set up by the London Borough of Barnet known as a local authority trading company.
Washing their hands
The workers have already taken four days of strike action over the pay cut, which they said was the result of an historic £400,000 pension deficit accrued by the council. In addition more than 30 workers have taken redundancy.
Unison representatives have accused the council of transferring this debt to YCB but not passing it on to other companies it contracts with, including outsourcing giant Capita.
Unison representative, Tom Andrews said the council, as YCB’s major stakeholder, could take action to alleviate the situation, but had chosen not to.
“It feels to me like the council has created Your Choice Barnet, and now they’re washing their hands of us,” he said.
But the council has denied this. A spokesman said: “When we have transferred pension liability, as with YCB, we have also transferred the funding that pays for it. When we have outsourced and not passed on the liability, we have not passed on the funding.
“We very much believe that YCB is the right model for this service.”
Andrews said the situation was made worse by a council policy of not paying YCB for ‘no-shows’ or when service users don’t turn up.
“It’s like the service is being penalised, but for what?
Following the strike, Unison members are also giving evidence about care workers’ pay and conditions in the House of Commons on 28 January.