Branch Secretary :

Unite Meets with Sanctuary Care Managers

We met today with two representatives of Sanctuary Care's management. Two elected representatives from the Greenwich care homes were present, as well as two officers from the Branch.


Marginal Changes to the the 'Offer'


The meeting began with a report from management on the proposals and how these have already been marginally changed since the Unite campaign began and also as a result of staff making responses to the consultation.


These changes included a slight increase in the levels of sick pay, and a longer span of compensation. Neither significantly addressed the five demands democratically agreed by Unite members which are that all staff to be put on the equivalent of Greenwich local government terms and conditions, there should be paid breaks for all staff, all shifts, a pay rise should be paid across the board of 10%, the long service award must be restored, and Unite the Union needs to be recognised for collective bargaining.


An Unsustainable Funding Model


The managers explained that the 'offer' was being applied across its 7,500 care staff in an attempt to equalise everyone's contracts (harmonisation). They acknowledged that staff TUPE transferred from Greenwich council would be worse off, and Unite was demanding that all be given contracts equivalent to the Greenwich terms, but said that this would make the business unprofitable. They explained that while the Sanctuary Care directorate currently made a significant surplus even after tax (around £6 million), upward harmonisation would result in a loss and would need subsidy from other Sanctuary divisions. 


In other words, the organisation has been content to cream off a surplus from the Sanctuary Care directorate for years, but is unwilling to reinvest any of this money in the care staff. It claims that if it improved pay, terms and conditions, this would break the business. Unite pointed out that any business model depending on the hyper-exploitation of staff was deeply flawed and desperately needed to be rethought.


Greenwich Council Funding


One of the reasons given for needing to make the cuts to pay, terms and conditions is apparently that councils across the country are cutting payments for the service. This makes it even more imperative that all members attend the Greenwich council lobby:


6.30pm (for the council meeting at 7pm)

Wednesday 15th May

Greenwich Council

Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6HQ (map)


There should also be similar lobbies of councils across England who buy in Sanctuary Care services.


No Money for Pay Rises


Questions to the managers revealed that any pay increase given this year would be around 1%-2% (if any), This is well below the current rate of inflation which is running around 3.4%, and is therefore effectively a pay cut. Surprisingly, the managers did not seem to know what level of pay rise the Executive received last year, so Unite informed them that it had been around 7% - and this on vastly inflated salaries. They were unable to explain how staff were supposed to manage with less money every year as the cost of food, energy and travel continued to rise.


Proposed Cuts Hurt Residents


The care home reps gave a graphic description of the ways in which these cuts will harm vulnerable residents, not least the need to wait for 3 days before qualifying for occupational sick payments. Staff are already coming into work when they are unwell, and the health of residents with weakened immune systems is being put at risk. This will only get worse if the cuts are implemented. Incredibly, the managers attempted to justify these cuts by saying that some care staff were even worse off. It is worth noting however, that even under the 'improved' offer, the care staff will still never enjoy the same sickness policy as that applying to the Executive.


Bullying and Intimidation


The managers did apologise if any members had received threats over joining Unite. They confirmed that every member of staff is free to join Unite or another union if they wish, and be represented accordingly. They promised that they will circulate a memo to this effect.


Unite made clear the great levels of anger amongst loyal staff who feel totally betrayed by what is seen as a kick in the teeth for years of dedicated service. They will not accept these cuts, both because of the harm to the staff and to the residents they have spent years caring for.


Talks will continue.


Please join us for the lobby of the 15th whichever organisation you work for. If you work for Sanctuary Care, please make sure that a delegation is organised from your care home and contact us if you need help with travel or other costs. Make placards and be prepared to support your rep as she speaks to the council.



Comments :

My husband is cared for in a Sanctuary Care home. The staff are amazing! They work 12 hour shifts under very difficult circumstances with people who are very ill and can be trying. Their attitude and compassion is never in doubt. These people are totally committed to the well being of their patients. They should not be penalised financially, nor should their terms and conditions be altered detrimentally. Perhaps Sanctuary Care and Greenwich Council should look at their commitment and care of their staff.

By B. Maconachie on 2019-05-09 15:58:27


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