Carers balloted for strike action amid threats to ‘fire and rehire’ at St Monica Trust

Care workers, registered nurses and residential home staff employed by St Monica Trust are being balloted on plans to cut their pay, hours, and changes to sick pay, says UNISON today (Friday).

In a recent consultative ballot over 70% of care workers voted in favour of strike action across five residential care homes in Bristol, Keynsham, and North Somerset.

Under the proposals, sick pay, and enhancements to pay ​for working weekends and evenings would be drastically cut, leaving some front-line care workers up to £300 poorer each month. Proposed changes to shift times will also be devastating to some staff with caring responsibilities​, says the union.

​St Monica Trust has ​said that if staff refuse to accept the changes, then they will be dismissed and rehired on new ​inferior contracts.

​The cuts ​have caused much concern amongst the care staff, especially with the spiralling cost of living and carers already worried about ​how they are going to make ends meet.

One carer said: “I work nights so that I can be with my children. As a single mum, cutting hours and pay will have a huge effect on our lives. We would be saying goodbye to the family holiday. I would worry about costs of school uniforms. I would need to find another job.”

UNISON Bristol branch organiser Josh Connor said: “The proposed use of fire and rehire is ​no way to treat hard working staff. ​It’s a despicable practice​ and is something that no decent employer would contemplate.

“With so many vacancies in the social care sector and inflation soaring, employers should be doing all they can to hold on to staff. That means improving pay and other work benefits, not cutting them. The Trust must think again, or it risks losing many experienced staff, which will have an impact on the care available.

“The public made their feelings known when another local employer Clarks Shoes tried this approach, ​forcing it to back down. UNISON will be ​making sure everyone is aware of the Trust’s ​callous plans and will be urging the public ​to express their dismay at such appalling treatment of this loyal, dedicated and experienced group of workers.”

The ballot for strike action will open on Friday 6th May and close on Monday 30th May.