365 Neath Port Talbot careworkers’ jobs safe

NEARLY 400 care workers transferring to a new boss have been told their jobs will be protected. Neath Port Talbot Council has agreed a 25-year contract that will see Gwalia taking over its residential and respite care, and its supported housing.

As well as running the authority’s existing homes, Gwalia will deliver four new homes in Port Talbot, Neath, the Neath Valley and the Afan Valley between 2013 and 2015.

Neath Port Talbot said it was proud of the quality of care provided by staff at the existing homes, but the buildings were not up to 21st century standard.

It has confirmed 365 staff will transfer to Gwalia’s employment after the contract is formally awarded on or after December 22.

But it said there had been “very clear” pledges given to staff, whose terms and conditions — along with those of new staff — would be protected for two years, while their unions would also be recognised.

Head of change management and innovation Karen Jones said there would be a massive change for employees.

Mrs Jones said Gwalia, like the council, only considered compulsory redundancy as a last resort.

She told councillors: “Gwalia does not anticipate any compulsory redund- ancies.

“If for some reason not all the staff can be accommodated in the new facilities then redeployment will be the first port of call.”

Staff were also praised for their commitment and quality of care — while home managers, many of whom were in the public gallery when yesterday’s decision was made, were also commended.

Social services director Tony Clements said: “It has been a challenging time and an anxious time because nobody likes change.

“I think the managers have been hugely professional in the way they have approached this to staff, service users and relatives.”

Council leader Ali Thomas said: “This is a momentous day.

“We have embarked on this venture to secure first-class homes for our older people, homes where residents can receive excellent care and which provide the right environment for staff to work in and carers to visit.”