Care staff looking after some of Dundee’s most vulnerable residents could strike unless “absolute horror show” plans to cut pay by up to £4,500 a year are withdrawn.
Home carers in the city voted last month to overwhelmingly reject plans by the local Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) imposing new work patterns of 30 or 25 hours per week on a split shift system.
It would mean staff who want to remain on single shift options would have their working hours reduced to 23, 14 or 12 hours per week, leaving carers who want to avoid split shifts facing a wage cut of as much as £4,500 a year.
Dorothy McHugh of the Dundee Pensioner’s Forum highlighted the extra worry the threat of industrial action could cause for older people but offered her support to care staff fighting against the changes.
“Clearly older people would have concerns about the quality of care they might receive in the event of any industrial action taking place,” she said.
“People build up a relationship and a trust with their carers and that is absolutely vital.
“However, the Pensioner’s Forum grew out of the trade union movement and we would always back workers fighting for better conditions.
“If you don’t treat workers well and value the work they do, then everybody suffers.”
GMB Scotland is calling on Dundee City Council to step back from the planned changes and warned a full industrial action ballot of the union’s membership in home care is scheduled to take place next week.
The union’s organiser Helen Meldrum said on Friday: “On International Women’s Day, we are asking this question of the city council: ‘Is this how you value women’s work in 21st-century Scotland?’
“Dundee is famously known as Scotland’s matriarchal city but the first against the wall for a fresh round of local cuts are low-paid women in our home care services.
“Left unchallenged, the council will impose cuts on the pay of our members by as much as £4,500 a year, a move HSCP management says is needed to ‘move with the times’. It is an absolute horror show.
“Plunging hundreds of women into poverty pay is not a credible prescription for the delivery of essential public services and our members are gearing up for a full strike ballot to defend their livelihoods.”
Plans to overhaul working conditions for home carers were put before councillors last year but were deferred following opposition from unions.
GMB Scotland, Unite and Unison members took part in separate consultative ballots last month, with all three unions reporting overwhelming support for taking industrial action over the changes.
A spokesperson for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said: “We will be getting back to staff and the trade unions with an update on the situation in the coming days.”