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Council scraps plans to overhaul home care service after two-year dispute

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A two-year dispute between home care workers in Birmingham and the City Council has come to an end after plans to slash working hours were dropped.

The council has dropped plans to impose new contracts and working terms on more than 200 staff in its enablement service, which would have resulted in reduced hours and large pay cuts for some staff.

UNISON called it a “magnificent victory” for its members, some of who would have lost up to £11,000 a year, it said.

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The union has been at loggerheads with the local authority since July 2017 when councillors announced plans to save around £2 million by reorganising its enablement service.

In January, council chiefs agreed to press on with plans to overhaul the service, which was “under performing”, according to an inspection by the CQC in January 2018, during a Cabinet meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, Councillor Paulette Hamilton said the proposals, backed by NHS partners, will improve the outcomes for elderly and vulnerable citizens, giving them the support “they need and deserve”.

But after 82 days of strike action, Councillor Hamilton said the changes were now “no longer required” due to a new scheme from Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG “plans to commission a new integrated community team to improve outcomes for older people,” she told the BBC.

“This will mean that there will be no contractual changes for staff, and therefore no compulsory redundancies or reductions in working hours – two of the primary objectives that Unison has sought through the dispute over the past year”.

Birmingham City Council is expected to formally agree to drop the proposals at a cabinet meeting on 22 May.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “If the council really is withdrawing these proposals, then it’s a vindication for these incredible care workers. 

“For well over a year they’ve fought against plans which put their jobs at risk and threatened massive pay cuts these low-paid workers could ill-afford. 

“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for them. They’ve repeatedly taken strike action, not because they wanted to, but because they knew they had to.

“From the outset our whole union has stood with these care workers because their fight matters to all of us – as it matters to the communities these care workers serve.

“UNISON members have earned their right to celebrate a momentous victory. And they can hold their heads up high. I am proud they are part of our union.”

Tags : Birmingham City Councilstrike actionUnisonworkforce
Sarah Clarke

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