Home threatened if staff refuse pay cuts

PUBLISHED: 12:37 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:52 31 May 2010

Stanley Wilson Lodge in Saffron Walden

Stanley Wilson Lodge in Saffron Walden

CARE homes in the area are under threat of closure unless staff accept pay cuts, claims the GMB union. Excelcare Holdings took over Stanley Wilson Lodge at Four Acres, Saffron Walden, and nine other homes in the county, from Essex County Council (ECC) in

CARE homes in the area are under threat of closure unless staff accept pay cuts, claims the GMB union.

Excelcare Holdings took over Stanley Wilson Lodge at Four Acres, Saffron Walden, and nine other homes in the county, from Essex County Council (ECC) in March 2005.

But now the GMB claims staff have been told they will have to take a pay cut as Excelcare does not have enough funds to keep the homes running as they are.

An Excelcare spokesman said: "A review of the care homes has identified that for compelling business reasons the company needs to make some changes.

"We have held consultations to ensure we can continue to provide viability for the long-term employment security and stability for all employees, and continue to maintain the service requirements.

"We wish to reassure our staff, residents and relatives that there are no plans to close any of the Essex care homes."

It was just minutes before one of the meetings that Cllr Paul Kirkman, leader of the Labour group, was told to leave, which has disgusted the GMB trade union.

Cllr Kirkman said afterwards he was invited to a meeting with employees and the union where he found staff were being asked to accept the minimum wage."

GMB Essex organiser Mick Ainsley said: "Excelcare will not give a timescale for when the pay cuts must be accepted, but it is unreasonable to ask care staff to work for poor pay.

"The company has publicly demonstrated its total contempt, not only for the people it's paid to care for, but also for their democratic rights.

"These homes must be brought back into council control so that the public money paid to fund the residents is properly accounted for to the elected chamber."

An Excelcare spokesman would not comment on the treatment of Cllr Kirkman at the meeting held at the Longfield care home in Maldon on Friday, but said that consultations with the union and employees were ongoing.

Pamela Pinner, 81, of Newport, visited her husband Ronald regularly at Stanley Wilson Lodge before he passed away last year. She said it would be a tragedy if the home did ever have to close.

"I was very upset to hear the home was under threat, as the staff were first class when my Ronald stayed there last year," she said.

"Everyone was very kind to both me and my husband and I was always made to feel very welcome whenever I visited."

An ECC spokesman said: "We are having ongoing and productive discussions with Excelcare about all aspects of the situation, including the employment of the staff, although this is essentially an internal matter for Excelcare to resolve.

"We understand Excelcare has no plans to announce any closures, so we proceed along the lines that our primary duty of care is to the residents and we will ensure their needs will continue to be met.

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