William Eichler 22 December 2017

Home carers take Christmas vote to strike

Care home workers in Birmingham have balloted to go on strike in protest at job losses and new shift patterns.

The public sector union Unison reports that 99% of Birmingham home carers balloted have decided to go on strike in January.

The union claims there are 350 home carers but the council challenges this figure and argues there are not even 300 carers in service. They claim only 200 voted.

Unison is in dispute with Birmingham City Council over cuts to the Homecare Enablement Service that includes job losses and new shift patterns the union says are ‘unworkable’.

‘We have been in talks with the Council for over 6 months but they are just not listening to us,’ said Caroline Johnson, branch secretary for UNISON Birmingham.

‘They want to cut the workforce by 40% but make the remaining home carers work an impossible shift system. This would force many carers to work three split shifts in a working day.

‘They would have to work 7am-10am, 12 noon until 2pm and then again from 4pm-10pm. Many would find it hard to get home and back to their shift in the breaks meaning they could be out from 7am – 10pm.’

The council claims staff chose to work over fewer days in the week and fewer weekends, preferring to work selected days with split shifts instead. It also says there are no compulsory redundancies of Enablement Assistants.

Cllr Paulette Hamilton, cabinet member for health and social care, said: ‘As an employer we have a duty of care to our staff which I fully endorse and appreciate; so it is vital that they are engaged and listened to as they are the ones delivering these services in people’s homes. 

‘Following on from extensive consultation, management have revised proposals and made changes to the initial proposal. It is clear though that this service needs to change to improve the outcomes delivered to our vulnerable citizens and to have a service that is fit for purpose. 

‘I have always been very clear that the door is open and remains open for further discussions around outstanding issues, so we can work together to provide the best possible service for our citizens.’

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