STAFF at three strike-threatened Glasgow care homes say uncertainty over people’s pay and conditions is destroying morale – and has taken them to the brink of a walk-out.

Around 200 carers at Baillieston Care Home, Cardonald Care Home and Stobhill Care Home have overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer by new owners Silverline Care.

They claim overtime rates have been slashed since the firm took over the business from the Four Seasons group earlier this year, with GMB Union bosses balloting workers earlier this week on possible industrial action.

The firm, however, says it has attempted to resolve matters through discussions with GMB and "remains open" to further dialogue to try to avert a walkout. 

One whistleblower spoke to the Glasgow Times to explain how the dispute has left people worried for their livelihoods.

They said: “These are great places and I have loved working at them, but the way I feel right now, I would leave tomorrow if I could.

“I love my job, but things can’t go on like this. Money is so tight and everything is going up bar our wages.

“We are just stuck in limbo and the last few months have been a shambles.

“We were told that we have new owners, but then we were told it was just a financial arrangement. We are still wearing our old uniforms, nobody knows anything, nobody tells us anything about what is happening behind the scenes. The only thing we know is that we are not getting paid what we were earning previously.”

The carer, who receives a basic sum of £10.90 an hour, says that overtime rates have been cut and the goodwill of staff is slowly draining away.

They added: “It’s such a shame to see such a great bunch of girls who couldn’t do enough for the residents lose their enthusiasm for the job.

“We have been treated so badly and given so little information about what is going on in the background, it is impossible not to lose some of the passion for what we do.

“We care so much about these homes and the residents there. We – and they - deserve better.”

READ MORE: Care home staff on brink of walkout over pay and conditions wrangle

GMB Scotland claims that Silverline are also attempting to derecognise workers’ union rights and say strike action is one option now being considered in a bid to bring management around the table.

Union bosses believe that workers’ pay and conditions should have been protected during the transfer of ownership under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations and have written to all of the city’s MSPs urging them to back workers.

Glasgow Times: Baillieston Care Home: Photo: Gordon TerrisBaillieston Care Home: Photo: Gordon Terris (Image: Gordon Terris)

John Mason, MSP for Baillieston, has now taken up the fight on behalf of staff.

He said: “I am troubled to hear of this move by Silverline to remove union recognition. Having a union like GMB involved in all sorts of negotiations is an advantage to the employer as well as to the staff. 

“As far as the actual pay negotiations are concerned, I realise that staff are wanting an increase which at least matches inflation, while the employer must ensure that income matches expenditure. Such negotiations are not easy in the present financial climate, but I would urge all sides to sit down together and really engage in dialogue.”

Mr Mason, who has written to the firm’s finance director asking for more information, added: “The wellbeing of residents is paramount, and I hope all involved will keep that at the front of their thinking.”

Glasgow Labour MSP Pauline McNeill told the Times that the homes’ owners must recognise the value of the work done by staff and offer reassurance that their pay and conditions will be protected.

She said: “The staff are the foundation of quality care for residents in these homes. They deserve fairness and respect from operators who must understand their crucial contribution.

“The staff must not be left in the dark and living with uncertainty about their salaries and the involvement of a trade union like the GMB will only ensure that communication takes place effectively and workers are treated with the respect their work demands.”

A spokesperson for Silverline said a new management team was introduced in June and at that time there had been an unresolved negotiation with the GMB over pay rates for staff.

They added: "Silverline had met with the GMB with a view to agreeing terms that were realistic within the context of the homes' trading position, but the discussions ended in stalemate.

"Staff received a pay rise in line with the terms of the National Care Contracts and local market rates and the company was still open to having discussions with a view to reaching a sensible solution.

"In the event of industrial action, measures will be put in place to ensure the continuation of quality care at each of the three homes."