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Cornovirus: full pay for Sanctuary self isolating workers

Unite raising need for sector to respond to Coronavirus

 

Unite reps in the sector are raising the need to respond to the Coronavirus crisis and unions nationally have raised concerns. This move by Sanctuary Care is an improtant example - but while it may be a wellcome example today it highlights management failure for many years.

 

Sanctuary attacked staff terms and conditions

 

Sanctuary Care who provide care to elderly residents in more than 100 homes throughout the UK have agreed to pay full contractual pay for all staff who are required to self-isolate due to the Coronavirus. They do not say whether they will also pay staff full pay if they are off sick for other reasons.

 

Sanctuary have said that they are concerned as their sector may be particularly at risk following the Coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home in Seattle which lead to the death of 13 residents.

 

These may be welcome measures for staff and residents alike if they help to stem the growth of the virus. However, when Sanctuary viciously attacked the terms and conditions of workers last year including sick pay Unite pointed out that a direct consequence of this would be that some staff would be forced to attend work despite being unwell to avoid losing pay. Workers attending work when they are sick would put infirm elderly residents needlessly at risk of infection.

 

"Generous" terms no longer affordable?

 

During Unite's negotiations with Sanctuary we were told that Sanctuary could no longer afford the "generous" terms that many of the staff previously enjoyed, and their executive continue to enjoy. We did not accept that then and the fact that they are now prepared to pay up shows that we were correct. 

 

There is no doubt that Sanctuary are panicking as they see the prospect of their lucrative business being destroyed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. They may be prepared to offer limited reforms under the glare of publicity but how long will that last and why don't they extend this cover for all periods of sickness.

 

Once more this crisis has demonstrated that these spivs cannot be trusted with the care of our elderly nor can they be trusted with offering decent employment to those who work in the care sector. It’s time to bring them back in house services under local authority control to enable at least some level of accountability. Trade Unions together with Labour councils should act on this demand now.

 

Late news: Unite response to the Budget and Cornovirus here.

 

Nick Auvache March 11th 2020

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