Over 650 care support workers at Alternative Futures Group (AFG) began the latest phase of their industrial action this week.
The members of the Unison union—who are fighting for the minimum wage for all the hours they work—began a seven?day walkout from Tuesday.
Strikers are battling cuts to their wages that would see some lose £2,000 a year.
Care support workers used to be paid for every hour they were at work.
But now bosses want to pay workers a flat rate of £40-50 for an overnight shift—less than the minimum wage.
Emma, a Merseyside care support worker, said, “It is a struggle to get by on the minimum wage and I can’t afford a cut to my income.
“I love working with the service users, but I’m having to consider leaving because I can’t pay the bills.
“We want AFG to listen and to pay us fairly for sleep-ins. We need this matter to be sorted out now.”
AFG claims it can’t afford to pay workers any more as local authority cuts mean their funding is dropping.
The firm receives funding from 15 public authority commissioners across the north west of England.
Thirteen of these commissioners pay AFG more than the £73.89 per shift that would cover the minimum wage.
Instead of paying frontline staff, AFG is funnelling cash into the pockets of senior management.
Its executive pay policy cost it £221,000 more this year than if it had matched the industry average.
Paul Barker, Unison regional convener, said, “AFG is taking an enormous cut out of the public money that is intended for the pay packets of low wage care staff.
“The company has the wrong priorities and it should instead be investing in its frontline care staff and in the service.
“It can’t raid this money for executive pay and overheads and then say that it can’t pay care workers the minimum wage because its other income is ring?fenced,” she said.