Care support workers employed by the Alternative Futures Group (AFG) in the north west will take two days’ strike action beginning on Saturday 2 March.
Staff are facing significant cuts to their incomes due to AFG’s plan to cut back on sleep-in top-up payments. AFG’s existing plans will cost staff as much as £15 for each sleep-in shift. Some staff work three of these shifts each week and face a cut to their income of more than £2,000 a year.
A ballot of 660 UNISON members returned a large majority (87%) in favour of striking.
AFG are cutting the income of their staff despite there being no cut in the funding that they are receiving from local councils.
AFG pulled out of Acas talks aiming to resolve the dispute because their demand for the union to agree a public statement blaming councils for the cuts to workers’ incomes was rejected.
April a Care Support Worker said:
“I never sleep when I’m at work because I’m always listening out for the service users. Our work should be valued and treated with respect.
“We love our jobs and we aren’t in it for the money, but we’ve been pushed too far now. I’ve worked in care for 21 years and I can honestly say that this is the poorest I’ve ever been. I don’t want to strike, but I feel I have to.”
UNISON North West Regional Organiser Tim Ellis said:
“Councils are paying AFG enough for them to pay their staff decently for sleep-ins. AFG should pass that public money on to where it’s supposed to go – to the hardworking frontline support workers who cannot afford cuts to their incomes.
“We simply don’t believe it’s true that AFG have been forced into cutting staff incomes due to inadequate council funding. AFG’s spending on overheads has grown significantly in recent years and we believe that their attack on support workers is a matter of choice rather than necessity.
“The staff are very determined to see this through and AFG face the real prospect of strike action if they continue on their reckless course. AFG need to do right by their staff and the service and reach an agreement to restore sleep-in top-up payments.”