Social care staff in Bradford have threatened industrial action against disabilities charity United Response in a dispute over pay changes that Unison says could see pay cut in half.
The union says the changes would see pay for residential support workers at the charity, which provides supported living services for people with learning disabilities in Bradford, cut from £14 to £7 an hour.
“Our members have been plunged into anger and disbelief,” said Unison regional organiser Rob Demaine. “Such cuts will see many of them losing their homes. Some highly skilled and dedicated staff who care for the most vulnerable people in our communities will be forced to leave their profession because they will not be able to afford to carry on.
A spokesman for United Response said the charity is still in talks with staff and unions about the proposals and is “disappointed that Unison are threatening industrial action, particularly as we extended the consultation period until 31 January in response to a direct request by Unison”.
He said it had asked Unison to come back to it with alternative proposals and hopes to reach “an amicable solution” but has put in contingency plans in case Unison members decide to back strike action.
“In terms of the actual pay cuts Unison are using as examples, we don’t think it’s right to comment on individual circumstances while the consultation is ongoing,” said the spokesman.
“We can say that of 246 staff, 138 would be affected in some way if these proposals were implemented. In addition, the terms and conditions of individual employees in Bradford vary so greatly, with significant differences in salaries and enhancements, that it is difficult to translate the changes into hourly rates.”
He added that the charity is looking to save money because it has been running the service at a loss and that Bradford Council needs to save more than £14m from its adult social care budget in the next three years.
“Given that our budgets come from social care it is realistic to expect that our own budgets will be affected and therefore it is responsible to plan for this and to make the services sustainable now and into the future,” said the spokesman.
Unison have also questioned whether it is legal for the charity can carry out the changes. “Members were transferred to United Response from Bradford Council and their pay and conditions were protected under TUPE regulations,” said Demaine. “But the employers now plan to ignore that legislation and make massive cuts to pay and conditions. We have sent our concerns about the TUPE arrangements to our lawyers.”
But the charity dismissed Unison’s suggestion that the move breaches TUPE rules: “As a responsible employer we would never ignore the legislation. We have taken legal advice and found that our position is compliant with the law and neither Unison nor any other party have yet provided evidence to suggest that it is not.”
“We do fully understand just how difficult the proposed changes are for our staff. That’s why we remain completely committed to this consultation, urge Unison to put forward alternatives and still hope that we will be able to reach an amicable solution.”
- Meanwhile Unison members employed by care home provider Care UK in Doncaster are to be balloted on whether to industrial action over plans to reduce their pay and entitlement to sick leave, holidays and overtime. Unison said that some employees face losing half their income under the plans. The ballot papers asking members whether they are prepared to take industrial action, including going on strike, are to be sent out this week. The result of the ballot is due on 13 February.