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Bexley carers refusing to sign new contracts

PUBLISHED: 11:20 11 November 2010

Cedric Frederick

Cedric Frederick

Archant

Carers are refusing to sign new contracts which they claim will bring their pay to below the minimum wage as well as abolishing their car allowance for trips below five miles.

Bexley council reduced its fees by 25 per cent to private care provider Avante and threw its staff out of its pension scheme on Thursday, leaving bosses at Avante seeking legal advice on the latter.

Meanwhile Avante’s Bexley carers have all received new contracts stating that their rates will go down from £8.32 to £6.87 and for unsocial hours from £11.83 to £8.17.

A Bexley carer, who wished to remain anonymous said: “I am a carer that has been threatened with the sack if I don’t sign their new contract. I have been a home carer for 21-and-a-half years and am appalled and feel very let down of how we are being treated.

“The new rates work out to be almost 17.5 per cent less Monday to Saturdays and 31 per cent less on Sundays. This reduction and to receive no mileage or travel time takes our income per hour to just under the minimum wage.”

Another carer of 16 years, who said they will refuse to sign the contract, added that clients are not more than five miles apart and one shift can consist of 14 visits of up to two miles apart, meaning no mileage allowance will be given.

Bexley carers have also been told that if they start working with the company on their new contract in Rye, East Sussex their car allowance will be paid. Avante chief executive Cedric Frederick said they are working with staff to plan new routes to keep costs to a minimum. He added: “If some people choose not to accept the terms and conditions they will no longer be employed by Avante.

“We have made the changes to ensure that service users do not notice any change, and that the highest quality of provision is maintained. Managers within this service have been asked to agree to a reduction in pay in the same way that care staff have.”

A spokesperson for the council said clients will now be able to choose their own providers rather than the council having a block contract with those such as Avante. They added: “The council has negotiated with Avante to agree a rate for the provision of services to residents in Bexley that reflects the market rate and will allow residents to maintain the level of care they need. Avante are an independent company and terms and conditions are a matter for them to agree with their staff.”


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