Sacking of Leicestershire care home staff is ‘disgraceful’

A company that runs 13 former council residential care homes for the elderly across Leicestershire has today sacked 100 care workers following a dispute over pay and conditions.

The staff axed by Leicestershire County Care Ltd (LCCL) are all former council staff that transferred to a new employer when the homes were privatised.

They had been facing cuts such as the removal of pay supplements for night work; work at weekends and bank holidays; as well as reductions in paid holiday; removal of their sick pay scheme and the withdrawal of a local scheme for maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

Before privatisation, staff were promised their pay and conditions would be safe and not reduced. However, LCCL claims that additional costs associated with Coronavirus have left the firm on a financial cliff-edge and cutting wages of staff is the only way to save homes from closure.

UNISON, which represents the majority of affected staff, has been in talks with the company for the past month. But failure to reach agreement on the cuts has now resulted in the company issuing staff with notice of dismissal, with the offer of new contracts if workers accept the cuts by 4 July.

The union is urging the company to think again. It says claims by LCCL of financial hardship are a sham and don’t hold up to scrutiny, with the company using the pandemic as an excuse to carry out cuts it had long been considering.

The Government, Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council have all pumped additional funding into supporting residential care homes with Covid-19 related costs. The city council has handed over an additional £176,741 to LCCL for help with just four homes during lockdown and similar support has been provided by the county council for the other nine homes.

UNISON East Midlands regional secretary Chris Jenkinson said:

“During the pandemic care staff have literally put their lives on the line caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

“They should get medals for their heroic efforts, but instead they’re being sacked by an employer motivated by profit with little concern for people. It’s a disgrace.

“Staff will be devastated by this announcement. The company must withdraw these damaging proposals or risk a long drawn-out dispute which could end up in the courts.”