Care workers formerly employed by Southern Cross are facing a month without pay as their new employer, Four Seasons, unilaterally announced that it would withhold wages for March 2012.
Four Seasons took over the management of 140 homes in autumn 2011 after Southern Cross went bust, but were themselves already running debts of nearly £800 million. Despite assurances from Four Seasons head Dr. Pete Claveley that the takeover would not lead to any changes in pay or conditions for workers, the company has told workers they will not receive any wages in March 2012 and will be paid on 17 April. Pay for bank holiday working has also been slashed. Outrageously, Four Seasons bosses have blamed the cutbacks on the increase in the minimum wage.
The GMB’s Justin Bowden said: “GMB members who transferred from Southern Cross face a month with no income as the company unilaterally withholds their wages. This is contrary to their terms and conditions of employment which are supposed to be protected by TUPE and contrary to the promises made to them in writing by Dr Calveley personally. No arrangements are in place to help these low paid workers cope during this month without income.”
Claveley has branded the union “mischievous” for its response to the issue.
Southern Cross care workers already faced difficult conditions before the company went bust and Four Seasons took over.
A GMB organiser told Solidarity in June 2011: “Workers are very low-paid and shifts can last up to 12 hours. Conditions in the homes themselves vary but some are very run down and quite depressing places to work. Homes are often very short staffed, so the quality of care goes down.
“Care work is very hard; people don’t realise how manual it is, but when you’re having to physically lift people in and out of bed or help them go to the toilet, it’s a very manual job.”