Care Home Staff Handed ‘Ultimatum’

An ultimatum handed to care home staff across Essex has been branded ‘monstrous’ and is fuelling fresh fears for the future of Stanley Wilson Lodge in Saffron Walden. According to the GMB union, employees of five Excelcare facilities for the elderly in the county were told they must accept a cut in wages and working conditions, or lose their jobs. Meetings with affected employees have been followed by letters outlining the new ‘take it or leave it’ contract.

The move was revealed by organiser Mick Ainsley, who said: “Effectively, they are sacking them, but offering that they can come back on their terms, but with no break in employment. It’s monstrous.” He accused Essex County Council, which sold the 10 elderly care homes to Excelcare last year in a controversial privatisation deal, of acting like Pontius Pilate and washing its hands of former employees.

Although Stanley Wilson Lodge is not one of the five homes targeted this week, Mr Ainsley said Excelcare bosses had refused his repeated requests for assurances about the other five properties – including the Four Acres facility. Other requests for information have also been declined, he claimed.

“We have no confidence that the other five homes will not be treated the same.” He said his efforts to protect workers’ rights and safeguard the future of residents had been further hampered by the fact each home is run as a separate company, linked to the parent Excelcare Holdings.

Speculation that Run-wood Homes plc was negotiating to buy the businesses was quashed by a company spokesman. “We have no plans and never had that in our agenda,” he said. Strike action was now a possibility, he said, and a ballot would take place soon.

Neither Excelcare nor Essex County Council responded to the Observer’s request for a comment about the controversy.