Give carers a bank holiday bonus, says union

Care workers should be given a bank holiday bonus, according to their union.

“A clap for carers is no longer enough,” said Unison branch secretary Sue Beatty.

She has asked Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw to ensure that all staff working on a bank holiday receive a bonus so that everyone receives equal pay.

Currently, she said, workers at Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service, receive a “resident service guarantee” bonus worth £277 each bank holiday weekend.

The money was awarded as part of the deal to settle a strike in 2013.

The strike was called after the council adjusted pay grades to try to ensure fair pay and allowances for comparable groups of employees, in line with the law.

Hundreds of rubbish, recycling and street cleaning staff lost out from the changes and the fall-out from the dispute was said to be still rumbling on.

Ms Beatty said in her letter to Mr Raw: “For too long the council has maintained a discriminatory work practice of rewarding one group of staff through the ‘resident service guarantee’ and not the others. Now it is time to change.

“The resident service guarantee payment is made to 226 Cityclean staff at a rate of £277 and they are 92 per cent male.

“However, the care workers employed by the council who are overwhelmingly female do not receive this payment.

“This is unfair and discriminatory and we call upon you to take immediate action to pay our care workers fairly.”

During the coronavirus pandemic care workers in Brighton and Hove have faced covid-19 first hand in council-run homes and in the community.

Councillor Steve Bell, the Conservative leader in Brighton and Hove, supports Unison’s call to pay care workers the same bonus as Cityclean staff.

He said: “I am calling on the Labour administration to urgently respond to the call from Unison and to provide assurance to care workers in the city that they are not being discriminated against.

Councillor Steve Bell

“If there is discrimination in workplace practices in the contracts set up by this five-year Labour administration then these need to be addressed and the Labour administration would have to consider compensation such as paying days in lieu of working, making sure bank holiday working is included in shift pay and annual salary increases.

“Any such changes should apply to all Brighton and Hove City Council staff.

“We should be valuing all key workers at the moment and not just a subsection and I call on the Labour administration to respond to this allegation of discrimination before the bank holiday weekend begins.”

Councillor Bell also called for a special covid-19 bonus to be paid to recognise the work of key workers during the crisis.

The council said: “We have a transparent package of allowances that were agreed in 2013 and ensuring the principles of equality for all staff is a core principle of our employment practices.

“We take any concerns raised seriously. Our social care staff, along with other staff across the council, have been on the front line of the covid-19 response and, as an employer, we celebrate the contribution our staff are making along with colleagues in the NHS.

“Unison has raised some concerns with the council around pay for care staff when they work bank holidays.

“We will be meeting with our union colleagues to understand the concerns that have been raised in more detail.”

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