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Carers of vulnerable mental health patients set to strike in Hackney

PUBLISHED: 19:06 09 July 2014 | UPDATED: 19:06 09 July 2014

Look Ahead workers stage a protest outside Hackney Town Hall.

Look Ahead workers stage a protest outside Hackney Town Hall.

Archant

Residential care workers who support vulnerable mental health patients have voted to strike over proposed cuts to their pay.

Staff from Look Ahead – a charitable housing organisation commissioned by Hackney Council and East London NHS Foundation Trust to provide care services in the borough – have already staged two rallies on the steps of Hackney Town Hall in Mare Street to express their anger over the planned cut of 14 per cent.

‘Vulnerable’

The 41 support workers are based at residential care homes for people with mental health problems in Clarence Road in Lower Clapton, Felstead Street in Hackney Wick, Foulden Road in Stoke Newington and Queensdown Road in Hackney Downs.

Their salaries have already been reduced and if further cuts go through, it amounts to a pay cut of almost 30 per cent in the past two years, compared to a £60,000 rise awarded to the group’s highest-earning executive.

In addition, Look Ahead is proposing demotions and reductions in night staff sleeping over. Its accounts show growth of 12 per cent and reserves of £61million.

Paul Kershaw, from union Unite which is backing the workers, said: “These cuts will affect the care of vulnerable residents as experienced, professional skilled care workers will leave as they will not be able to support their families, and these staff will be replaced by less experienced personnel.

“This has clear health and safety ramifications, not only for the residents and staff, but for the community as well.

“Unite believes that Hackney Council’s money should go to ensuring decent, safe and properly staffed residential care for vulnerable members of the community, rather than being siphoned off to satisfy corporate greed.”

A spokesman for East London NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for the contract, said: “This contract is under discussion and involves the remodelling of services to enable residents to personalise their support to fully meet their needs.

“The trust is committed to paying its staff the London Living Wage, which is at least £8.80 an hour, and encourages our partners to do the same.”

A spokeswoman for Look Ahead said that the four projects were affected by cuts in contract funding.

“Our staff and their representatives at Unite have put forward a number of proposals to mitigate the impact of these cuts and we are currently considering these,” she said.

Workers voted for a strike last week, but dates have not yet been set.


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