A MAJORITY of the caring staff employed by St Anne’s Community Services have signed up to new pay and conditions, the charity says.
It said it had received 85% of total replies, all of which agree to the proposed new terms, the deadline for acceptance of which was last Friday.
But a union says it has received a substantial number of case forms from members seeking to challenge the changes to terms and conditions through the tribunal system, many of them from the Bradford area.
The Unison union says about 120 care workers at charity St Anne’s face massive pay cuts, loss of annual leave and increased pension payments being imposed by managers.
The front-line carers, who it says have worked throughout the pandemic putting their lives at risk, were told they must sign up to the the cuts by Friday or face being sacked and re-employed on new contracts.
St Anne’s operates care services across the North of England, including Bradford.
The charity is harmonising pay and conditions by increasing the pay of some staff and cutting the pay of those who were transferred from the NHS under TUPE regulations.
Unison regional officer Dean Harper said: “They are robbing Peter to pay Paul and it will devastate the lives of 120 dedicated care workers.
“Could any low-paid worker cope with £7-8,000 being slashed from their income? Of course not. It will mean people being forced to leave jobs they love because they can’t pay their mortgages or rent.”
“Already St Anne’s is losing a quarter of its staff every year and these massive cuts will make recruitment and retention even worse.
“I have spoken to one of our members who has put her house on the market because she will not be able to keep up the repayments.
“This isn’t an isolated incident many other members are faced with the prospect of not being able to cloth and feed their children. Others can now look forward to a retirement spent in poverty rather than one where they can enjoy the remaining years of their lives.”
He added that the charity had previously blamed the drastic cuts to pay and conditions on cuts to local authority funding.
But he said Bradford Council had confirmed to Unison that St Anne’s had received increased funding from the local authority for two consecutive years and that Leeds had also confirmed they had uplifted their funding to the tune of £1.6m. “We are questioning why St Anne’s are using the reduction in funding as an excuse to attack our members pay and terms and conditions.”
Mr Harper added: “There is great anxiety among members who are faced with the real prospect of living in poverty.
“We are currently running an indicative ballot to see how our members want us to proceed and we are also consulting our lawyers to assess the legality of the charity’s planned dismissal and re-engagement.
“We are also seeking advice on whether the dismissals may be potentially unfair.”
In a statement the charity said: “St Anne’s has seen a positive response to our consultation process, with 85% of total replies now received, all of which agreeing to the proposed terms. More responses are being received daily.
“Of the staff members who are due to receive transitional payments, nearly half of those staff have signed in agreement of their new terms.
“St Anne’s is committed to the future; delivering high quality care and support that meets the evolving needs of local communities. As well as investing in our front-line staff, we continue to strengthen the organisation’s infrastructure and management to ensure that we continue to respond positively to changes within the social care sector and support people across the region who need us now and in years to come.”