Care home staff in Bristol, including nurses, have begun a series of strikes over proposed changes to their contracts which they say will result in their pay being cut.
Registered nurses were among 64 staff employed across St Monica Trust’s four care homes who joined the picket line last Friday, and further action has been planned for this week including a 48-hour strike.
“I don’t want a fat wallet, I just want fair pay”
According to the union Unison, care provider bosses are going ahead with plans which could see the most experienced and longest serving staff hit with salary cuts.
Unison said that senior care workers would have their weekend pay rates slashed by 21% and other staff face a 10% pay cut. Some employees could face losing more than £3,000 a year, it warned.
The union also said that proposed cuts to sick pay entitlement, and changes to working hours and breaks, had led to this strike.
Many have joined the picket lines across South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, stating that St Monica Trust failed to negotiate with them.
Tina Rossiter, a nursing care assistant who is striking, told Nursing Times that she is looking at a £700 a year pay cut with the current proposals.
“I’m not going to sign something that makes me lose money, that’s where I’m at. If they gave me my old contract back I’d be quite happy,” she said.
“I don’t want much, I don’t want a fat wallet, I just want fair pay.”
Ms Rossiter said she was not just striking for herself, but for her residents.
She was concerned that changes in working hours would mean residents would get less one-to-one time with staff for activities such as going for a walk.
“I came into this job to be a carer, one to one time is special to me,” she said.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Staff are taking the difficult decision to strike because they have no options left.
“Despite building wonderful relationships with residents and their families, dedicated employees are being forced out of the door.
“The wellbeing of the elderly residents and their loved ones is being sacrificed in order to cut costs. It’s wrong that St Monica Trust managers are putting profit before people.”
David Williams, chief executive of the St Monica Trust, urged Unison to call off the remaining strike days.
“Every single member of the St Monica Trust team is valued and, as we have done throughout this process, we will continue to listen to our colleagues and address any remaining issues that they may have regarding the care home restructure,” he said.
“There are no winners when industrial action threatens to disrupt the lives of vulnerable older people, their loved-ones and our care home colleagues.”
He said 80% of colleagues had already agreed to the proposals, which he claimed would “deliver consistency” across the trust’s four care homes.
For example, he said currently some nurses at the trust get paid breaks and some do not, whereas under the new plans all nurses across the care homes would now receive paid breaks.
He said 73% of staff would be better off under the changes but admitted that some roles would be “more adversely affected than others”.
“However, these roles will be covered by the two year’s pay protection that will cover any loss of hours, pay and enhancements,” he said.