90 Care Home Workers Face Pay Cuts

Ninety staff at four care homes for the elderly in Torfaen are facing pay cuts of up to 50% in August. The organisation that took over the homes in 2002 says it can no longer maintain pay and conditions from when the local council employed them.

{mosimage}The union Unison has said dedicated staff are being treated badly.

When Hafod Care Association took over the homes from Torfaen Council, it promised to keep the status quo for existing staff for five years.

However, from 1 August, the association intends to cut workers’ hourly rates and stop paying extra for weekends and night work. It also plans other changes to terms and conditions for care assistants.

The homes affected are Ty Gwyn in Cwmbran, the Arthur Jenkins Care Home in Blaenavon, Cwmbran House in Pontnewydd and Plas y Garn in Pontypool.

One member of staff, who did not want to be identified for fear of losing their job, said: “After all the years that I have actually given loyal service, I really feel as if our lives and what’s going to become of our lives appear to be of no consequence at all to anybody.

“Overnight, by the stroke of a pen, they are going to take at least 30-50%, and expect us to actually live on that – it’s impossible.”

The care workers are represented by Unison, although the union has said that Hafod Care has refused to recognise it.

Regional officer Peter Short is furious at their treatment and said most people would be “20-30% worse off in terms of their take home pay”.

“I don’t think I can recollect such bad treatment to our members previously from any of the employers that we have dealt with in Wales for many many years,” he said.

Robert Wathen, the managing director of Hafod Care Association, said he understood that staff were unhappy, but that there was no alternative.

“The most significant cuts are for a minority of staff and these are staff who are paid well in excess of what the industry norm is,” he said.

“We have given people five years to get used to the idea, but we have to run it as a business and if we don’t do something then we will lose 160 jobs in Torfaen.”

Stewart Greenwell, chief officer for social care and housing at Torfaen Council, said it had talked to everyone before the transfer took place.

“When the council transferred its homes to Hafod Care Association in 2002, we consulted fully with affected staff and their trade unions,” he said. “It was made very clear at that time that Hafod would guarantee terms and conditions of employment for a five-year period.”

Hafod Care Association manages 15 care homes for older people across south Wales.