Despite the start of a strike by staff of Care UK last Thursday, bosses say it is business as usual.
Chiefs said daily support and activities for 140 vulnerable adults have been maintained despite action by some staff on the first of a seven day strike called by Unison. All the people the service supports have received their scheduled visits from experienced professionals.
Director of Care UK’s learning disability service, Chris Hindle said: “The robust contingency plan has been successfully implemented today and all the people we support have received a good service. As a national care provider, we’ve been able to put in place a high quality, thorough solution delivered by experienced colleagues from Doncaster and elsewhere.
“Well over a hundred people in the Doncaster team are not members of Unison so, together with support from experienced managers and colleagues from other specialist services, we have been able to deliver, in full, the services and shifts that we are contracted by the Council to provide.”
Chris continued: “We do not believe that strike action is a responsible route when the offer of talks supported by ACAS, without pre-conditions, was made earlier in the week. This offer has been repeated by us and rejected by Unison again today.”
Despite the need to reduce costs, no employee who transferred into the service has been made redundant, the basic pay of all employees within the service is being fully protected and all staff who transferred to Care UK will continue to be members of the valuable NHS final salary pension scheme. In addition Care UK has protected future increments and have offered a transition payment which is equal to full salary protection for 12 months.
It has been made very clear from the outset that whichever provider was chosen to deliver this service would have to reduce spend as well as improve the service.
Under the proposals which Unison has rejected, Care UK is proposing to review the rates and opportunities for things like working evenings or weekends, bringing paid annual holiday levels, which, for some people, are currently close to seven weeks on top of public holidays, and sick pay, into line with what is more normal for this sector.
As well as protecting basic pay and jobs, it is also offering the Doncaster team financial assistance through a transitional arrangement which compensates employees for any change in earnings for a whole year.
Care UK runs modern community-based learning disability services which are structured around the needs and wishes of the people they support - not services based on traditional and institutionalised practices.
Chris Hindle concluded: “We’ve protected jobs, basic pay and pensions and have proposed salary protection equivalent to 12 month’s pay but there isn’t enough money in the pot to leave things as they were. We have no alternative but to make some changes to bring the service more into line with what is seen elsewhere in this sector.”
Care UK has kept in touch with the families and friends of all those using the service to explain how their loved ones will be supported throughout the strike. Care UK is confident that the robust plans it has will ensure that the service users will continue to receive a good service for the remaining days of the strike.
Tony Pearson, Unison’s regional head of health for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “I think it’s very sad that we’ve had to hold this protest.
“Care UK is a multi-million pound company slashing wages of people who provide essential care for the most vulnerable adults in society.”
One anonymous protester said: “Lots of service users today are waking up to strange faces.”