Care workers strike over low pay

Workers at a care home in Pembroke Avenue look after people with severe learning disabilities but are only paid minimum wage

Staff at care home for people with learning disabilities only paid minimum wage, reports James Cracknell

Staff at a care home for people with learning disabilities have been going on strike in a dispute over low pay.

Members of the Blue Chip Staff Association (BCSA) decided to walk out for one day per week in October after employer Care Management Group (CMG) refused to raise their wages.

The staff work at a care home in Pembroke Avenue that offers a specialist supported living service for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. They had been demanding an increase in pay from the national minimum wage of £8.21 per hour to the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour, which is a rate tied to the cost of living in the capital.

But pay negotiations broke down after CMG, an Enfield Council contractor, argued their budget from the local authority was not enough to cover the cost of higher wages. Nesil Caliskan, the council leader, has in turn claimed that CMG makes increasing profits that are enough to fund a wage rise.

BCSA national organiser Ted Purcell told the Dispatch: “I met with the council leader and she was absolutely horrified, she had no idea [about the low pay] and said she supports the London Living Wage. The council was under the impression that the workers were getting £10 per hour. It is appalling that they only get £8.21.

“The last thing I want to do is take people out on strike, it is a last resort. Our members work hard to deliver care and without them these patients would not receive the quality of life that they deserve. They are frustrated and fed up with receiving the minimum wage to carry out this job – their hard work is not being recognised.”

Cllr Caliskan met with some of the striking care workers last month. She said: “They are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our community and they deserve to receive a decent wage. The council appreciates the financial constraints that we are all working under and has always been very clear about these challenges. We would also want the same level of transparency from service providers with their staff, so when an organisation continues to increase their profits, I don’t believe it is unreasonable that staff should also benefit.”

A CMG spokesperson said: “Our staff are incredibly hard-working, caring and compassionate individuals and we value them greatly. Ensuring that our staff receive a decent wage is incredibly important to us, but we are constrained by the fees that we receive from commissioners.

“We do however appreciate and understand the funding pressures that are faced by local authorities, and as an organisation we do aim to increase salaries year on year. We are always looking into ways in which we can reward our staff and this will only continue.”