Some staff at our residential homes and Extra Care facilities in Bath and North East Somerset are taking 24-hour strike action from 0800 today.
We are really sorry and disappointed that despite our best efforts we have been unable to find a solution to the differences that still exist between ourselves and Unison. While we respect their right to protest at the changes, we do believe that we have done all we can to make a fair offer to staff.
Our priority now continues to be ensuring the safety and well-being of those in our care; we are grateful to all those who have agreed to continue working and to those staff who are covering the shifts during the strike action.
If you have a question or are worried about a loved one who lives in one of our facilities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Executive Janet Rowse has issued more detail following coverage of the 24-hour walk out of Unison members from Sirona’s three residential homes and five Extra Care facilities in Bath and North East Somerset.
She said she understood why staff were upset, however as a not-for-profit organisation Sirona was faced with a financial gap and had to live within its means.
“Our focus today has been on ensuring residents and tenants at our Residential Homes and Extra Care facilities are safe and supported and I am grateful to those staff who have continued to work or agreed to cover these shifts. It has been a normal day for those in our care.
“We have been in conversation with Unison and staff since last summer as we have been keen to find alternative ways of meeting the funding gap; we have already reduced management and overhead costs.
“The issue for which we have not been able to find a solution with staff is the removal of paid breaks in shifts of six hours or more. Staff have been offered flexibility as to whether they maintain their income and do more hours or maintain their hours and reduce their income; the average impact would be about £300 a year. We have offered to cap the number of extra shifts anyone would need to work to no more than one in every four weeks.
“We do understand this proposal has an impact on staff and at Easter we offered two per cent of basic salary to help mitigate this; the offer was accepted by just under half of the workforce. Two weeks ago we offered via Unison a further eight per cent of basic salary as a one-off payment, which is around one month’s wages and this was rejected yesterday.
“Throughout the process we have also done our best to accommodate staff requests including protecting alternate weekends off.
“We are sorry and disappointed that we were unable to reach agreement with Unison over the issue and we do want to continue to have conversations to find a way forward. We remain open to considering other proposals from Unison and staff.
“Having unpaid breaks will ensure consistency with elsewhere in the sector and within Sirona and our pay and benefit package is competitive including sickness and holiday pay as well as pensions.
“We are not experiencing recruitment difficulties and currently there are on average four applications for every post.
“We advised the Council in January 2017 of the actual cost of running residential services but they were unable to make that level of funding available on an ongoing basis. The Council has provided additional funding for new developments including the transformation from residential to nursing care and to enable us to care for those with very complex dementia. We are grateful for this support, however, this funding does not solve the problem of the underlying gap.”