Socialist Worker

New battle by care workers in Bath and Somerset against pay attack

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2610

Sirona workers on strike

Sirona workers on strike (Pic: Unison South West)

Some 120 care workers are striking against plans to wipe up to £1,200 from their pay packets.

Unison union members at Sirona care homes in Bath and North East Somerset (BNES) are walking out for two hours every other day in June. This follows a 24-hour strike on 6 June.

The workers, mostly women earning little more than the minimum wage, work in residential care.

Sirona bosses want to insert a 30-minute “unpaid break” into each shift. But as the shifts will be not extended, this will just amount to 30 minutes work “owed” to the company.

Carers will then accrue hours and work shifts unpaid—and some workers will be liable for an extra 16 days a year.

Unison members refused to sign contracts to make the changes possible, and instead voted 95 percent for strikes.

Sirona bosses say they are forced to cut wages as BNES council cut £215,000 from their budget.

Bernedette Yea is a Unison shop steward and has worked as a night support worker at Sirona for ten years.

She said, “Despite caring for some of the most vulnerable people, we don’t feel valued. We’re using our only card left—a strike—to show the council and Sirona that we might be care workers—but we won’t go quietly.”

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