Council Workers Could Strike Over Shake-Up

Council staff could take industrial action in a bitter row over plans to reorganise services for people with learning disabilities in Cardiff. Union officials claim the shake-up could lead to staff being sacked and ordered to reapply for the jobs on different terms and conditions. The changes, according to the council, are aimed at giving the 240 clients a more community-based service allowing them to pursue lifestyles in their own areas. The emphasis of the existing five day centres – two in Canton and others in Ely, Rumney and Tremorfa – will be changed and replaced by up to six area bases. But families are concerned about closing the centres.

Rita Sheppard, of Whitehall Parade, Rumney, Cardiff, is a carer for her sister Pat Sheppard, who uses the Castlefields centre. She said the centre was a massive boost for her sister and others with learning disabilities who benefited from it. “It would be a huge blow if the centre closes,” she said.

A spokesman for the union Unison said: “There is a potential reduction in service to our clients and a reduction in the longer term as the authority is intending to become more reliant on friends and families for these services.”

The union has called an emergency meeting on August 21 and has warned that industrial action is an option.

The spokesman added: “We are extremely concerned at the authority’s proposals. Not only will they have an horrendous affect  on our members but we believe will be significantly detrimental to the clients who our members are serving.”

A Cardiff council spokesman said: “We have previously announced that we will be restructuring day services for people with learning disabilities. Although many of our day service projects have won national awards, some of our provision is not of a standard that our families have a right to expect.

“A new structure for Cardiff’s day services will address this disparity and re-configure our services to reflect the person-centred, community-based approach that the Joint Review (of social services) called for. We intend to have this new structure in place by January 2009.

“Consultations had begun with the trade unions. We were due to hold a series of consultation meetings with staff and service users. Unfortunately, the unions have chosen to share the information with staff and the media. We have had no choice, therefore, but to bring forward the staff and service user consultation process. It is important to emphasise that no decisions have been made.”