Cornerstone members accept improved settlement

Worth itFollowing a further consultation with UNISON members in Cornerstone, on an improved deal negotiated with management, which will include an additional 3 months pay protection taking the pay protection element to 9 months and up to the end of March 2014, members have voted to accept.

UNISON has withdrawn the threat of strike action as a result. Scroll down for history of the dispute.

Update 23rd July 2013

Progress made in Cornerstone dispute and consultation with members underway

Cornerstone members returned a YES vote in their recent ballot over organisational changes and the associated financial impact arising out of the changes.

Following the ballot result further talks have been held with the employer and UNISON has negotiated improvements on the previous package of measures to deal with the changes, subject to the endorsement of the members affected.

John Keggie Scottish Organiser has been working closely with local representatives. He said, “Members voted to take part in industrial action on both questions, which were for action short of strike action and strike action. The mandate for action must be used within 28 days of the result on the 15th July 2013.

“We are now taking steps to consult the members affected so they can make a decision on the new improved deal which will include an additional 3 months pay protection taking the pay protection element to 9 months and up to the end of March 2014.”

A meeting of Cornerstone members will be held in the Trades Hall, Glassford Street, Glasgow at 11.00am on Friday, 26th July 2013 prior to an individual postal consultation of all members.

John said, “This is a crucial stage in the communications and ballot process and it is therefore important that all members try to attend the meeting on Friday.

“Following this meeting a copy of the settlement reached will be sent to you for your consideration.

“If the improved agreement is not accepted industrial action will need to start before 12th August to comply with the 28 day rule relating to industrial action ballots,” said John.

Update 25th June 2013

Strike ballot for Cornerstone members over plans to axe 155 community care jobs and slash salaries

Members employed by Cornerstone in the West of Scotland are being balloted on industrial action following proposals to cut 155 support workers jobs.

Cornerstone has said that those who are unsuccessful in securing their own jobs will be demoted to a support assistant role and see their salaries slashed by £2,000 – £3,000.

These workers provide quality care services to vulnerable adults in our communities.

Mark Clifford, UNISON Regional Organiser, said: “These are draconian and unnecessary cuts. Our members, many of whom have given years of loyal and dedicated service, are outraged at the proposed job losses and a whopping £2,000 – £3,000 slashing of salaries for those who are demoted.”

Despite the organisation seeing a surplus of approx £375,000 last year, Cornerstone claims it cannot sustain the current levels of support workers.

It also claims that the need to reduce the numbers is driven by the self directed support agenda and service users’ care needs.

UNISON does not believe a coherent business case has been put forward and that other options are available which would see the current staff levels maintained.

Mark added: “UNISON has been left with no alternative but to ballot our members for industrial action.

“We have during our negotiations consistently requested that Cornerstone halt the changes and return to the negotiating table and embark on a more meaningful and constructive dialogue. Our members should not be held to ransom by the employer pushing ahead with the proposals come what may.

“They already face financial hardship as a result of an economic crisis brought about by the rich and greedy.

“Industrial action is always a last resort and we are always prepared to restart negotiations but this can only be achieved if there is a level playing field.

“We would urge the Cornerstone Community Care Board and the Chief Executive to halt the process and explore with UNISON a resolution to this dispute.”

Update 5th April 2013

Cornerstone members have voted in a consultative ballot to reject Cornerstone’s proposal to increase the numbers of Support Assistants and reduce the number of Support Workers in the West Region.

On a return of around 40%, 95% of members voted to reject plans to reduce the numbers of Support workers and increase the numbers of support assistants.

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, “UNISON has made it clear that the current proposal is the best that we believe can be achieved by negotiation. However our members have clearly indicated that they are not prepared to accept this.”

Sarah Duncan, Regional Organiser added, “We will now be consulting with our Cornerstone stewards and members to agree the next steps.”

The key points of Cornerstone’s proposal are:

  • There are currently 375 Support Workers and 62 Support Assistants.  Cornerstone’s review indicates that the West Region requires 220 Support Workers and 217 Support Assistants.
  • All existing Support Workers will be invited to apply for the 220 Support Worker roles. Staff will be able to indicate a service preference when applying for roles.
  • Selection will be made through interview process by two managers, including a manager from a service different to your current service during May and June.
  • The change in role will be effective from 1 July 2013.  Until then all Support Workers will all keep their current role and salary.  Those who become Support Assistants will have their salaries protected until the end of September 2013.
  • The Support Assistant hourly rate is being increased to £7.45 in line with the Scottish Living Wage with effect from 1st April.

As a result of UNISON’s negotiations Cornerstone has agreed the following additional points:

  • Voluntary redundancy is being offered (please note that this is at Cornerstone’s sole discretion and based on operational need and financial viability).

There will be

  • No external recruitment of Support Workers in the West Region for 12 months unless there are exceptional circumstances, to give Support Assistants the opportunity to regain their former role.
  • Cornerstone will ring-fence £50,000 for learning and development over the next two years for the ongoing professional development of Support Workers and Support Assistants.

UNISON understands that these proposals are very difficult because for some people it will involve a significant drop in salary.  However, Cornerstone has already implemented a change to more Support Assistants in other regions and for reasons of fairness and equity to all members we cannot prevent them implementing the same proposal in the West Region.

UNISON has negotiated that staff can apply for voluntary severance if they do not wish to remain employed by Cornerstone.  We have also tried to maximise the chances of Support Assistants moving back up to Support Worker by negotiating an external recruitment freeze for 12 months and a commitment to a training and development fund.