The Sirona strike goes ahead as more than 100 care workers walk out today after their employer refused to withdraw plans to cut their pay.
Staff at care homes across B&NES could lose up to £1200 from their salaries if the plans for shift changes go ahead. Sirona bosses want workers to accept a half an hour pay out of each shift, or accrue a thirty minute “debt” per shift which they would have to work for free at a later date.
Sirona management say they have to make the changes following a £215,000 cut from B&NES council. B&NES leader Tim Warren denied responsibility and said the pay cut for Sirona staff would “bring them in line”.
Around 120 Sirona care workers in public service union UNISON will strike for 24 hours from 08:00 today, and then for two hours every other day for the rest of June.
UNISON South West organiser John Drake said:
“B&NES need to ask themselves what they are doing dishing out a £1200 pay cut for these already low-paid workers. Just this week Cornwall council signed up to the Ethical Care Charter, paying all care workers a real living wage. If cash-strapped Cornwall can do it then B&NES with its huge tourism income can find £170,000 to protect these vital workers.
“More than one hundred care workers will walk out today with a heavy heart, but they simply cannot accept this pay cut. The figures estimating their reduced income don’t even factor in the cost of childcare, travel, and lost time with family that Sirona’s shift debt system will cause. The more they work, the more time they owe back to their employer. This is a frankly Victorian system. B&NES need to intervene to stop this going any further.
“These staff look after older people with serious conditions including dementia. The system relies on their willingness to go the extra mile, but this is a step too far. We don’t want our relatives looked after on the cheap, yet that is what Sirona and B&NES are doing. If the plans go through quality of care will suffer as experienced staff are forced to leave.