First strike at private care homes as staff fight for fairness
The first strike at private care homes in Scotland began today [TUESDAY 5 SEPTEMBER] as staff accuse managers of attacking their pay and conditions.
The industrial action at three homes in Glasgow is underway after the owners refused to resolve the dispute despite the intervention of Humza Yousaf.
The first minister had hailed Scotland’s care workers as he urged the Minster Care Group to avert strike action at the homes, including one in his constituency.
GMB Scotland members working in the homes overwhelmingly backed the action at Cardonald, Ballieston and Stobhill Care Homes after the new owners refused to protect wages and conditions.
The firm has also been accused of trying to derecognise the trade union as other politicians from across the city wrote to the company urging executives to resolve the dispute.
Respectful picket lines formed outside the homes today on the first of two consecutive days of strike action as staff strove to minimise disruption to residents and GMB Scotland accused the owners of causing needless uncertainty.
Kirsty Nimmo, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “Staff at these homes do not want to be standing outside fighting to protect their pay and conditions.
“They want to be inside caring for the residents like they do every day of their working lives but the actions of the homes’ owners have forced them into this unprecedented industrial action.
“We tried to resolve this dispute again and again but the company has never been serious about engaging with their staff and clearly had no intention of making a serious offer to avert this strike.
“Our hearts are with the residents and their families but our members must also think about their own families.
“All they are asking for is fairness. All they want is to be treated with decency and respect.”
The industrial action comes despite an appeal by Yousaf, who is SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok. He wrote to Mahesh Patel, chief executive of Minster, paying tribute to staff at the homes while urging action to resolve the dispute.
He wrote: “Social care workers provide a vital service. Their work providing personal care and social support to residents is essential to the running of care homes that are rooted in compassion.”
The SNP MSP, who took credit for averting threatened NHS strikes when health secretary, also voiced concern about the threat to derecognise the GMB.
He wrote: “My own relationship with trade unions has been positive and constructive.
“Even where there have been disagreements, my approach has been to always continue constructive dialogue to try and find a solution.
“I hope you can offer reassurances that this will be your approach going forward.”
The homes, where 150 residents are cared for by 200 staff, were previously run by the Four Seasons group before being taken over by Silverline and are now administered by Minster Care Group.
The workers’ pay and conditions should have been protected during the transfer of ownership under TUPE legislation but they accuse management of a series of assaults on pay and conditions, including withdrawing a previous pay offer and reducing overtime rates.
The GMB balloted more than 100 staff with the majority backing action.