Gwendraeth Valley care workers’ pay cut anger

SEVENTY carers in the Gwendraeth Valley who help the elderly face having their wages slashed. A clause in their new contract would also mean if they left the company — Village Homecare, based at Woodlands Terrace in Cross Hands — they will not be able to work for another agency for six months.

The care assistants, who don’t belong to a union, said they will be losing out on around £40 a week.

One carer, who didn’t want to be named, said up to 20 employees were still yet to sign their contracts. She added: “What’s upsetting is that a clause in the contract means we can’t go and work for another agency for six months.

“They haven’t given us any time to think it through. They’re putting pressure on us.

“We do a fantastic job in the community but to be treated like this is wrong.”

The weekday half hour rate was £3.45 but has been reduced by 15p to £3.30. The weekend half hour rate was £4 but is reduced by 45p to £3.55 and the evening half hour rate was £4.50 but is now £4.20.

Workers were given a week to sign their new contract and return them to Swansea. The workers now face having to pay lawyers out of their own pockets. Despite turning to county councillors for help they haven’t had any response yet.

The Cross Hands workers cover areas from Crymych and Llanelli to Ammanford and Llandovery.

“It’s a lot of money when you add it up over the year.

“All we want to know is why we’re having a pay cut and social services are having a pay increase,” added the care assistant.

“We can’t go on strike because of the clients. It’s not fair on them. Some can’t do anything for themselves. We know we have a grievance but why should they suffer.

“If the company said it was short of money I’m sure we would be willing to take a pay cut for a year but to do this, they’ve got us over a barrel.”

The Journal contacted Village Homes, but they declined to comment.

In a letter to their employees they state: “The company has been put in the unfortunate position where it must consider implementing the above payment rate reductions as a direct consequence to the reduction in the payment rates being imposed on the company by the local authority.”

Bruce McLernon, director of social care and housing at Carmarthenshire Council said: “There is no change to the authority’s commissioning arrangements with the independent sector domiciliary care agencies.

“We are continuing to seek high quality, cost-effective services for the benefit of our service users.” We are undertaking a tendor at present where we hope to establish new contracting arrangements from April 2010.