Strikes threatened over care home

PUBLISHED: 16:52 19 October 2006 | UPDATED: 09:56 31 May 2010

Stanley Wilson Lodge

Stanley Wilson Lodge

STRIKES and legal action were threatened after a motion to scrutinise a controversial care company was toned down at a council meeting in Chelmsford. The motion last Tuesday called for an urgent review of Excelcare, which manages Stanley Wilson Lodge in S

STRIKES and legal action were threatened after a motion to scrutinise a controversial care company was toned down at a council meeting in Chelmsford.

The motion last Tuesday called for an urgent review of Excelcare, which manages Stanley Wilson Lodge in Saffron Walden and other care homes for Essex County Council. It followed a number of complaints about the company's practices.

The motion was amended by conservative Cllr Sarah Candy, cabinet member for adult social services, who insisted that the company had already been scrutinised and would prepare a report instead for the council's Policy Development Group.

Michelle Bradley, regional officer for Unison, said: "This is the biggest mess I've ever seen Essex County Council get into."

A packed public gallery consisting of unhappy Excelcare workers, former council employees, greeted the amendment with jeers and staged a protest outside of the county hall after the amended motion was carried.

Outside union officials from general union GMB and public services union, Unison, alleged that Excelcare had a poor track record around the country, cutting wages and bullying employees into accepting poorer terms.

Michael Ainsley, of GMB, said: "All they're interested in is cutting costs; there is no other way to cut costs other than cutting wages."

Conservative cabinet member, Lord Hanningfield said: "Excelcare is monitored regularly. We owe it to both the council taxpayer and the elderly taxpayer to get value for money."

Both unions are launching legal challenges into the company's practices which they claim sets up homes as companies, transferring the workers from the council to each individual home rather than to Excelcare, which contradicts employment regulations.

Control of Stanley Wilson Lodge and nine other care homes in the county was handed over to Excelcare from Essex County Council in March 2005.

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