Staff at two Bristol care homes to go on strike in dispute over pay

Strike action will take place at the end of June and into July

Care workers, registered nurses and residential home staff at two Bristol care homes are to go on strikein a pay dispute with the charity which runs the sites.

The staff at John Wills House Care Home and Garden House, both in Wesbury-on-Trym, say St Monica Trust has asked them to accept a pay cut - a claim disputed by the charity.

Their union Unison says that in March more than 100 members of staff across the care homes, plus two more in Winscombe and Keynsham, were told they must accept new inferior contracts or lose their jobs.

The union says that the new contracts will cost staff thousands of pounds a year and also water down their sick pay.

The staff at the four care homes will go on strike on June 29. Futher action has been planned for July 2, 5, 10 and 11.

Care staff will strike for five days between the end of June and mid July and will affect four care homes across Bristol

Unison has said that trust managers have earmarked the longest-serving and most experienced workers for the biggest pay cuts, despite a national shortage of experienced care staff.

It adds that senior care workers have been told their weekend pay rates will be cut by 21% under the new plans, whilst other staff were being asked to take a 10% cut to their salaries.

The trust is also advertising for agency staff with an hourly rate of pay of £16.82, which is £7 more than the workers doing the same jobs are currently earning, claims the union.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Going on strike is always the last option.

“But when an employer is determined to cut the wages of already low-paid care staff in the middle of the cost-of-living catastrophe, employees have little choice but to take action.”

In response to the strike action, David Williams, chief executive of the St Monica Trust said the planned changes would see ‘care home colleagues pay protection for the next two years’.

He added: “This means that the Trust is guaranteeing that no colleagues affected by the proposal will be worse off.”

Mr Williams also said that all staff had been awarded a 4% pay rise this year, whichhe said was far higher than the average pay increase for the health and social care sector.

He addedL “As a local charity, the world we are now operating in is very different to the one of two years ago.

“The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the UK’s health and social care sector, as does the nationwide social care recruitment crisis.

“The proposals that are currently under consideration aim to deliver consistency in the ways of working across all of the Trust’s care homes, improve recruitment and attract new workers into the social care sector.

“This will also help fulfil our ongoing commitment for the St Monica Trust to be a real living wage employer, while offering a package of enhancements that exceed the industry standards for the health and social care sector.”