Glasgow City Council care home workers strike over pay
Council care workers in Glasgow are beginning a 48-hour strike over changes to their pay and working conditions.
The union Unison said the changes may leave some staff at the council's care homes almost £1,500 a year worse off.
Glasgow City Council said staff would not have basic salary cut, but some may lose shift allowances. It said plans were in place to minimise disruption.
The strike will affect 600 people in 15 elderly care homes and one home caring for people with physical disabilities.
Unison said the council's changes would mean new roles for staff, longer shifts and pay cuts of up to 7%.
Brian Smith, Unison's Glasgow branch secretary, said: "We have not taken action lightly but have no alternative. Again, we ask Glasgow City Council to work with us to reach an agreement.
"These changes will affect the vulnerable people our members care for.
"The lowest paid staff are being asked to take on new tasks like dispensing medicines - and at the same time they are being forced to work longer shifts and to accept massive pay cuts."
The union said the new shift patterns would mean a wage loss of up to £1,495 per year for 182 staff.
Mr Smith added: "We are concerned increasing shifts to 12-and-a-half hours - and reducing staff/resident ratios at night - will undermine the standard of care that we can provide.
"Our residents have complex needs and caring is a demanding job. We must maintain a competent and confident workforce who can give the care our residents deserve."
Glasgow City Council said only 111 out of 536 staff voted in the strike ballot. Of those who voted, 82 voted for the strike.
The council said it had made changes the union wanted, including giving staff more time with residents and offering staff two out of three weekends off.
It also plans to make up to 160 temporary staff at care homes permanent.
A council spokesman conceded that some staff would see their take home pay reduced but said this was because they would be working fewer unsociable hours. He stressed basic pay was not being cut.
The spokesman said: "We have been very surprised that Unison has refused to offer 'live and limb' cover, just as we are very disappointed that Unison has moved to strike action at all.
"The new workforce plan, which meets the wish of staff for more weekends off and for greater contact with residents, has been agreed to in writing by 93% of staff.
"One of the major benefits of the plan is that 160 staff in temporary positions will receive permanent contracts.
"At a time when there is still great uncertainty in the economy with increased use of zero-hours contracts we believe it is a major plus that we can offer workers secure employment."
The spokesman said that by moving staff to permanent contracts the council could help to reduce its reliance on agency staff within care homes.
He added: "This represents a good deal for staff, the council and the council tax payer, but primarily for care home residents, who will enjoy enhanced continuity of care."