B&NES care workers to vote on strike over Sirona pay cut

Sirona staff in UNISON will vote on strike action over changes to their pay and rotas.

The changes would see around 200 care workers taking a pay cut, or having to work longer to get the same income.

Bosses issued notice that unless staff accept the Sirona pay cut, they will be dismissed and re-engaged to force them onto the new arrangements. The 200 workers are based in homes around Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton.

Management are extending working hours as an “unpaid break” of thirty minutes per shift. But in most cases these breaks will not be factored into existing shifts. Instead staff will build up a backlog of time owed, meaning they have to work an entire extra shift effectively for free, or see the equivalent money deducted from their wages.

Staff are being made to cover the shifts of colleagues who are sick or on annual leave, in addition to the days that they already work without extra payment. If they don’t do this they will have the pay deducted from their salary.

The care workers affected earn just above the minimum wage of £7.85.

Many workers have told UNISON about the hardship the Sirona pay cut would cause them:

One member told UNISON working longer will mean she won’t be able to pick up shifts at the second job she relies on to get by.

Another member said additional shifts would mean she couldn’t look after her elderly parent.

Many employees have raised concerns that the new shifts will limit their ability to pick up ad-hoc “bank work”, which they use to make ends meet.

UNISON South West organiser Lewis Carson said:

“These care workers look after people with dementia and other challenging illnesses, but they’re paid minimum wage. Now Sirona bosses want to hit them with a pay cut. Staff have been clear throughout they have had enough and are ready to stand up for a fair deal.

“We want family and loved ones needing care to get the dignity and attention they deserve. But Sirona is already struggling to recruit new staff. This pay cut will make recruitment problems worse, meaning fewer staff to look after care home residents.

“The workers are dedicated to their patients, but who would stick out a tough and draining job when you can get the same pay stacking shelves in a supermarket? Sirona bosses must scrap their pay cut plan now.”

Further information
  • Sirona’s funding grant has been reduced by B&NES council, despite B&NES receiving extra money for social care through the Improved Better Care Fund
  • B&NES IBCF totals as follows: 2017/18 – £3.428m; 2018/19 – £2.063m; 2019/20 – £1.028m