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Birmingham Homecare Workers are being re-balloted on strike actionin in the ongoing dispute.The long running dispute is over proposed rota and shift changes.

The followings letter was sent by the Branch urging members to vote yes.

“Dear UNISON Member,

UNISON is advising you to vote yes in this second industrial action ballot. It is vital that every member takes part in the ballot as every single vote is crucial since the Tories changed the rules on taking strike action and require over 50% of you to participate in the ballot or strike action can no longer take place.

This ballot opens on the 24th May and you have 3 weeks to vote and send the ballot paper off. If you do not receive a ballot paper please let us know immediately so that we can make sure another one is sent to you in time.

As you know we have been taking action for 6 months now as we were opposed to the threat of compulsory redundancies and managements rota that contained 3 split shifts. The council have already achieved the budget saving they set in June of last year and have managed to cut the staff by 48%, more than was originally proposed and they say that they have removed the 3 split shift rota.

We asked the council to agree to allow staff in the enablement service to draw up rotas themselves – self rostering – and have been trying to get a pilot running to see if it could be successful. We believe that the self-roster rota that has been drawn up by the Perry Barr team is the most effective rota the service has ever had and for the first time all staff are working 1 weekend out of 2.

However management have been comparing the rota staff have drawn up to a fully part time rota that would see staff hours cut across the board affecting all staff not just those that work full time. If imposed this could lead to a cut in contractual hours for everyone. They have also recently threatened to remove mileage payments from the first and last call of a shift.

We are balloting all enablement assistants including those of you that work in the courts as staff have been sent to work from the courts to the patch and vice versa and we believe that staff in the courts should be able to self-roster as well.

Our ballot is wider this time as we have included issues that have arisen since the dispute started so we are including no cut to anyone’s hours, a demand that the service remains a council service as we believe that the private sector cannot provide the important service that you provide to the public. We are also including a demand that our calls to service users are not reduced below the 30 minute shortest call. We also believe that work can and should be scheduled between 11am and 12pm so that service users can be enabled to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

We recognise that this has been a long drawn out dispute and if we are going to have a successful self-roster system of work it will take a few months to implement across the city in each constituency but we really do believe that the service can be much more efficient than it was and can be a service that the council is proud of. A self-roster system can accommodate those of you that wish to work 3 split shits, those of you that need to work flexibly due to caring commitments and give all staff a work life balance. It is proven that staff who have more control over their shift patterns are happier and work more productively so everyone wins.

We have received support for our dispute from people across the UK who have sent wonderful messages of support and financial donations meaning we now have over £32,000 in the hardship fund. Lots of the donations have come from health workers and social workers who have said that the work you do is absolutely vital and without is they wouldn’t be able to do what they do.

One of the biggest providers of home care Allied Healthcare has warned that it could go bust unless it receives more funding. Recently the council has sent much of our work to Sevacare to test if they could do enablement but complaints have soared, it is clear that the whole health sector is being seriously underfunded which has created the race to the bottom in the care sector. Our elderly citizens deserve better which is why we have to fight to keep services in house and to continue to try to improve what we do so well.

We urge you to vote yes in the ballot, last time we got a 54% turn out, this time we want a much higher turn out so that it is clear that we are serious and intend to stick together until we win.

If you are unsure how the councils proposals affect you as an individual then please call 0121 200 3331 and ask for Mandy or Caroline and we will explain the detail to you.

Best wishes

Caroline Johnson
Branch Secretary
Unison Birmingham Branch”



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