Pay cuts in social care at Alternative Futures Group: updates and discussion

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madashell
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Feb 27 2012 09:10
Pay cuts in social care at Alternative Futures Group: updates and discussion

admin: news and leaflets about this dispute on libcom.org here: http://libcom.org/tags/alternative-futures-group

I work as a support worker for a North West based care company, Alternative Futures Group, recently they've decided to cut our pay, which means a 3.9% cut for myself and most other support workers and a 6.5% cut for casual staff, the company is also going after support workers who have been transferred over on TUPE contracts from social services and PCTs, who are all currently on different terms and conditions to the rest of us, don't have exact figures for them.

A number of us are trying to organise to get people to collectively refuse to sign contracts, amongst other forms of action, this has largely taken place outside of the union branch. Unison have finally decided to ballot for a ballot for strike action (seriously, I didn't even know they did that), as well as putting out a petition, having completely ignored this dispute for the last couple of months of sham consultations.

By the by, if anybody in Rochdale, Burnley or Lancs is interested in helping us out, PM me, could do with some help distributing a leaflet.

I'll keep this thread updated as and when new developments occur, there's also a blog. The blog has been interesting, the company are aware of it and have become quite determined to find out who has been writing it and sack them for "gross misconduct", I think being publically criticised by one of their own employees rattled them quite a bit. It's safe to assume somebody from HR will be watching this thread, by the way (hello, Peter), since the reposts on libcom appear higher on google results than the original blog.

greeny
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Feb 29 2012 21:49

i think its pathetic ,, why are they doing this with support workers ,, when the managment got a big fat juicy pay out

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madashell
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Feb 29 2012 22:21

Have heard from TUPE workers, apparently the changes to terms and conditions for staff currently on NHS terms amount to a pay cut of around 25%-30%, once the removal of unsocial hours and night enhancements is taken into account. There seems to be a general feeling amongst workers transferred over from NHS terms that AFG is deliberately trying to force them out.

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madashell
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Feb 29 2012 22:29
greeny wrote:
i think its pathetic ,, why are they doing this with support workers ,, when the managment got a big fat juicy pay out

Couldn't agree more, greeny. I take it you're an AFG support worker too?

At the end of the day, it's hardly surprising that management have decided that no manager should recieve a pay cut, but the fact that they expect us to accept this while we're left with pay cuts and worse terms and conditions in general is pretty insulting.

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playinghob
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Mar 4 2012 21:28

AFG isn't the only company to behave in this fashion. It's right across the board in the voluntary/independent sector. The company I work for, as a locum (which will remain nameless for the moment), increased the working week to 40 hours from 35 or 37 and a half with no extra pay. Workers were told this was a voluntary agreement but were basically told they were risking their jobs if they didn't sign. A couple of experienced middle managers, on the same hours, with long service challenged this and were basically threatened with the sack if they didn't 'set an example' to the workers.

Locums, who are on zero hours terms of employment with no contract, had their hourly rate cut from £10.50 to £8.50. Some workers who are members of Unison (around 40 members in a workforce of around 300) sought advice and were told that they had already negotiated locally with management over this and had agreed to to the new measures. They said it was the unions job to protect jobs and minimize cutbacks - by doing this they had prevented redundancies and service closures! Strangely enough the workers and service are still facing redundancies and closures. Senior management , like AFG, faced no pay cuts. They justified this by natural wastage thru early retirement. A couple of lumps of useless deadwood in head office took early retirement with a golden handshake and a fat pension larger than a support workers wages .

Organizing the already demoralized workforce is difficult. Workers are shit scared of losing their jobs. Locums are in a particularly precarious position. You don't get sacked for 'troublesome' or 'challenging' behaviour - you simply don't get booked! Workers simply disappear! Full time workers on contracts are victimized for 'poor performance' etc and get constantly moved around the organization. It almost like 'ghosting' in the prison system.

Seeds of discontent are being sowed however. Small steps of working to rule and 'no favours', are being encouraged as a general protest. As a locum you can move relatively freely around the organization - that is until you get sussed and don't get booked anymore! Lost a co-worker/ comrade this way who started making health and safety noises.

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Mar 5 2012 11:25

New blog post - AFG and TUPE'd staff need to stand together

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madashell
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Mar 5 2012 18:29

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/burnley/9568986.Hundreds_of_East_Lancashire_care_staff_could_strike/?ref=twtrec

Quote:
Proposals by Alternative Futures Group to cut wages and benefits for around 400 workers, who care for adults with learning disabilities and mental health needs, have prompted a furious reaction.

Union leaders have confirmed that a ballot for possible strike action is beginning, as funding for reablement work is slashed by £5.1million by Lancashire County Council.

Several staff who have spoken to the Lancashire Telegraph insist they have been told that if they do not sign reduced contracts by September they will be sacked.

One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “If people sign this deal then it will lead to them being made homeless - no-one can afford 40 per cent pay cuts.”

The workforce is also furious that lucrative severance deals, offered to managers and teams leaders who left last year, are now not being offered to remaining staff.

Former NHS staff, who worked for reablement services in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, and Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, have the most to lose.

The two teams were transferred to AFG in 2007 and 2008 and were given pay guarantees under trade union pay legislation. It is understood their contracts easily outstrip their AFG colleagues.

Tim Ellis, Unison regional officer, said: “People are hugely angry - as anyone who has heard these proposals would understand.”

Staff would be relucant to take industrial action, he added, but many faced severe financial hardship otherwise.

Steve Gross, the county council’s commissioning director, said: “These are difficult financial times and everyone involved in social care must ensure that services provide the best possible value for money.

"AFG, which provide services for people with learning disabilities on behalf of many councils in the north west, including Lancashire, have recently asked staff, service users and their families for their views about possible changes to the way the organisation is run.

“While AFG is an independent provider, we would of course welcome proposals to improve choice and value for money for local service users.”

AFG were unavailable for comment.

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Mar 19 2012 12:05

Demonstration/phone blockade on 30th of March

Quote:
Support workers facing pay cuts at the hands of Alternative Futures Group need your solidarity. On Friday the 30th of March a Unison branch AGM will be held at AFG’s head office, Lion Court (in Kings Business Centre, Prescott, L34 1BN), AFG support workers are calling for a demonstration against pay cuts outside the building from 1pm till 3pm.

If you can’t make the demonstration, please consider calling or e-mailing Alternative Futures Group during the demonstration and letting them know that you oppose the pay cuts they are imposing on us.

Contact details for head office are:

Tel 0151 489 5501
Fax 0151 481 4818

Email: mail@alternativefuturesgroup.org.uk

Neil Campbell (Chief executive of AFG): Neil.campbell@alternativefuturesgroup.org.uk

Gill Dolan (Director of Operations): Gill.dolan@alternativefuturesgroup.org.uk

You may want to ask why Alternative Futures Group is cutting the pay of its lowest paid employees while continuing to pay Chief Executive Neil Campbell over ten times the wage of a support worker (in excess of £140,000 per year) in salary and an undisclosed sum in bonuses, why AFG’s Human Resources department have been making repeated threats of dismissal against support workers who speak out against the company or why a charity that, according its own accounts, ended the last financial year with a budget surplus of £15 million now claims to be at risk of going bankrupt if it doesn’t cut £5.1 million from it’s budget.

Facebook event page

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madashell
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Mar 19 2012 11:51

Indicative ballot on strike action in favour, official ballot to follow.

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fingers malone
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Mar 19 2012 19:05

keep us posted madashell, and good luck.

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Steven.
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Mar 23 2012 09:35
madashell wrote:
Indicative ballot on strike action in favour, official ballot to follow.

yeah, interesting stuff mad. You got more information about what the result was?

Also, if you wanted to duplicate the carers talk coverage of this dispute on libcom that would be really great - I have created Carers Talk and Alternative Futures Group tags in the library.

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Mar 23 2012 10:59
Steven wrote:
yeah, interesting stuff mad. You got more information about what the result was?

Afraid not, will collar our convenor and try to find out. Our branch is not great at passing information on to members.

Quote:
Also, if you wanted to duplicate the carers talk coverage of this dispute on libcom that would be really great - I have created Carers Talk and Alternative Futures Group tags in the library.

Cheers, will put it all up shortly.

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Steven.
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Mar 23 2012 11:26

Nice one, thanks

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madashell
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Mar 29 2012 23:27

*bump*

The demonstration and phone blockade are tomorrow, would be awesome if people could spare the time to phone or call (see posts above).

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rat
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Mar 30 2012 13:59

Just called, phone line closed.

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madashell
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Mar 31 2012 08:23

Report on yesterday's demo.

Interestingly, local fash are pretending that they turned up and scared us away. I don't recall seeing them.

whitewitch
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Apr 3 2012 12:25

i am a support worker in cheshire we were tupe over in sept 2010. I am disgusted with the way we have been treated. We never get information or letters regarding anything to do with the discions that have been made. We were informed about a meeting on the day it was i went and i was the only support worker to go as no one knew about it.
I am sure some of the support workers in cheshire would have supported u in your demo but we didnt no about it. Please keep us informed of anything else that is going to happen. We would like to be involved.

Miss T Rust
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Apr 3 2012 13:40

I'm a Rochdale TUPE support worker, I've only just heard about the demo and found this site by searching for any articles in MEN. Good on you Liverpool lot would have joined you if I'd known about it. I'll be passing on a link to this site to as many colleagues as I can, we need all areas to be in contact with each other so that we can join forces, disabling AFG's 'Divide & Rule' tactics.

We have been trying to bombard our M.P and local councillors with letters and emails about this, but no replies have been received to date.

There is also a mass email campaign to Neil Campbell about his comments and atrocious maths in The Liverpool Echo in progress from us, unfortunately as we are probably the smallest group of AFG employees, we may not have the required effect, with this and the letters to M.Ps campaign.

We in Rochdale TUPE'd from NHS will be facing a pay cut of 36% hence the comment about atrocious maths! A.K.A lies.

I'd be more than happy to help with leafletting Rochdale staff and passing on any information/news.

Miss T Rust
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Apr 3 2012 13:42

BTW there doesn't appear to have been any articles in MEN regarding this, something I must get to once I've contacted colleagues and NC

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Apr 3 2012 16:03

Hi whitewitch and Miss T Rust, there's a demo planned at a Lancashire County Council meeting in Preston on the 10th of May, details here.

Miss T Rust, do you think it'd help if we named a particular day, for everyone to e-mail NC again? More impact if it all comes in at once smile

Miss T Rust
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Apr 3 2012 18:42

Good idea, a couple of dates with his inbox clogged up might be better, plus wouldn't want to miss out if I was on a day sleep.

noodlehead
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Apr 3 2012 21:06

any social care workers working for Housing 21?

Miss T Rust
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Apr 4 2012 13:59

Anybody sent an email to NC yesterday or today? I got a reply saying sending failed, due to tech problems.

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madashell
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Apr 5 2012 10:43

He might have changed the address to stop this sort of thing from happening. He must still have an e-mail for business purposes though. We'll have to find out.

Miss T Rust
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Apr 5 2012 14:29

That's what I was thinking