Carers to fight privatisation

VULNERABLE adults could be left without care if council workers go ahead with a strike.

Kirklees Council employees who care for the elderly and disabled have voted in favour of industrial action because of rumours their work will be privatised.

Unison say the council is planning to hand care for adults suffering from complex conditions including dementia, multiple sclerosis and spina bifida to social enterprise organisation Locala, based in Batley. This is denied by the council, although it admits it is putting the service out to tender.

Mick Ryan, assistant branch secretary for Kirklees Unison, said transferring the work to Locala was a step towards privatising all home care. He said the move would affect the standards of care delivered as employees would have lower pay and worse conditions working outside of the council.

In the private sector, workers sometimes have to cut corners and spend less time with those they care for just to try to get through a shift, he added.

“We don’t blame the private carers, they need to be unionised,” he said.

The union is now planning to hold a second ballot, with industrial action a possibility within the next few months.

Mr Ryan said: “Our members care for the people they look after but at some point they have to say ‘I need to stick up for myself’.”

Kirklees carers provide essential support for between 300 and 400 adults with the most complex needs, ensuring they take medication and helping them wash and eat.

Council employees currently care for the 15 per cent of people most in need, with 85 per cent of home care already outsourced to private firms or charities.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said it has worked with independent home care organisations for several years to provide services across the district.

He said: “We are expanding our services to help people live independently at home and staff will be able to continue to work for the council after this process is complete.” He confirmed home care services were being put out to the ‘independent sector’ for tender but there were no plans to move services to Locala.

Mr Ryan said: “Out of the companies they already use, one is a charity, the rest are all private. It’s people making profits out of vulnerable people.”