Hundreds of care workers in north west England have staged a seven?day sleep-in ban—a night shift strike—in a fight for the national minimum wage.
The battle involves around 600 workers at Alternative Futures Group (AFG), a social care charity based on Merseyside.
The Unison union members care for vulnerable adults who live in their own homes and need support at night.
Bosses want to change workers’ contracts so that they are paid just a flat rate of £50 for a 10 hour sleep?in shift.
Workers are furious—for many, it would mean a cut of about £300 a month, and for some up to £4,500 a year.
Striker Jamie said, “Making people work for below the minimum wage is disgusting. We are asking for the bare minimum. That’s not too much to ask.” he added.
The action follows an 87percent vote for strikes, and a 48-hour walkout earlier in March.
There have been years of legal wrangling about how wages should be calculated for overnight shifts.
Care bosses claim that as workers should be asleep for some of their shift, they shouldn’t receive a wage for every hour worked.
But it’s common for workers to care for residents at different points in the night—and suffer from sleep deprivation as a result.
And punishing shift patterns mean many carers work a full day shift after a tiring night.
“After a sleep-in of continued broken sleep, I sometimes have a 12-hour day shift starting at 7.30am. It’s exhausting,” said carer Deborah.
Management claim they have no option except to pay workers under the minimum wage.
But workers shouldn’t have to pay the price for cuts. It’s likely that care workers—already low-paid—will be forced to use food banks or to take up second jobs as a result of the attacks.
Bosses should cough up the cash for workers wages, and a service fit for everyone.