FOSTER carers who ‘step out of line’ are in fear of being deregistered from their jobs, an employment tribunal has heard.

James Johnston, from Knightswood, told a hearing in Glasgow yesterday that being deregistered was a “serious threat” to members of his profession.

He said one carer was considered unsuitable for the job shortly after being appointed and was taken to a disciplinary panel and deregistered.

The 54-year-old and his wife Christine are challenging Glasgow City Council in a landmark tribunal case, which could see carers across Scotland receive workers’ entitlements including sick pay, pensions and holiday pay.

If the couple succeed in convincing judge Ian McFatridge their contract was the same as that of an employee, as opposed to a self-employed person, it could create better working conditions for fellow carers.

They are being supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) which set up a branch for foster carers last year, and are being represented by solicitors Balfour Manson.

The pair had worked as multidisciplinary treatment foster carers (MTFC) since 2011 helping some of the city’s most troubled and vulnerable children.

Mr Johnston told the tribunal that despite carers being promised a £250 bonus at the end of five year service, he and his wife only received theirs last month.

He said:" Some colleagues who have been there for eight years have never received it."

The 54-year-old was also asked by council lawyer Brian Napier QC if he had ever received the foster carers handbook, which he understood was to be given to all carers.

Mr Johnston replied: "You could ask every foster carer in Glasgow and you'd be lucky if even a third of them had got that."

He was questioned by QC Aidan O'Neill, who is representing him and his wife, about the work the couple did and how they were managed.

He said the job "controlled your whole life" and described a former manager at the programme as "God".

When managers were applying for project certification by the US-based firm which developed the scheme, the tribunal heard that team meetings were filmed and members were briefed on how to behave.

In one email, sent by a former manager, the foster carers were told they would be "harassed" until the certification process was over.

Mr Johnston was quizzed by Mr Napier on whether he and his wife had ever turned down a child placement, which was not permitted according to the couple’s contract unless under certain circumstances.

Mr Napier asked: “You have no recollection that you did not want to take somebody because you see them as being suitable for you?”

“No, no chance” Mr Johnston replied.

The current MTFC programme supervisor Irene Cronin was also giving evidence before the tribunal yesterday.

She was asked by Mr Napier if she had ever had concerns about the behaviour of any of the foster carers’ working in her team, to which she replied that she had “to differing degrees”.

Ms Cronin said the usual procedure would be to refer any concerns she had to the supervising social worker, who would then “raise it with Glasgow City Council.”

When asked if she had every had the opportunity to refer any foster carers directly to a review panel, she said: ” I have never had the need to do that and I never did that.”

The tribunal before Ian McFatridge continues.