Care workers at Thera East Midlands hold protest in Derby over proposed wage cuts
CARE workers say they will need to find new jobs if their employer carries out proposed cuts to wages.
Employees from Thera East Midlands – which helps provide home care for people with learning disabilities – gathered to protest in Derby city centre on Saturday.
According to union Unison, as well as pay cuts, the organisation plans reductions to sick pay and to end overtime for bank holidays, weekends and nights for all workers.
The workers are upset about a lack of consultation and the effect it will have on the quality of their work.
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There were 26 workers who gathered during the protest in Osnabrück Square. Some spoke to the Telegraph but asked to remain anonymous because they said there was a clause in their contract stating they could be disciplined for bringing the company into disrepute.
One worker – a 52-year-old woman – said under the proposed changes she would lose £400 a month from her wages and was worried about maintaining mortgage payments.
She said: "If they go ahead, I will need to look for a top-up job or a better paid one, because I could lose my house."
A 46-year-old woman, of Derby, said she was in the same position.
She said: "Thera will be losing so many qualified staff if it makes the changes. We have been doing it for years and have done a lot of training.
"The level of care will go down and that's upsetting because these people have learning difficulties and some cannot even talk. We know them so well and have learned to read their behaviour."
Another worker, a 55-year-old man, who lives in South Derbyshire, called the proposals "draconian" and said he did not think he could survive if the changes go ahead.
He said: "I've sat down with my partner to see where we can make cutbacks and we've struggled to find any with the cost of living increasing."
Unison said it had responded to Thera East Midlands' proposal document and sent two letters but had not received a reply.
Gary Freeman, Unison representative for Thera's Derbyshire workers, said: "I think Thera East Midlands has been taken aback by the strength of feeling. I think they thought staff would say 'ok, there's nothing we can do', but instead they say they cannot work on that contract."
Last week, Thera East Midlands, which employs about 170 people in Derbyshire, told the Derby Telegraph said as part of the pay review consultation it was talking to "as many staff people as possible and with elected representatives to ensure everyone is fully aware of, and engaged in, the proposals".