11 June 2013
Workers at Equinox Care – the charity dealing with substance abuse problems – will be taking a second day of strike action tomorrow (Wednesday 12 June) over pay cuts of up to £8,000-a-year for many staff.
Unite, the country’s largest union, accused the management of ‘radio silence’ over its repeated requests for talks and the refusal to attend the conciliation service, Acas.
Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus said: “Telephone calls have not been returned, emails remain unanswered, and the reps have been told that management is either ‘working from home’, ‘unavailable’ or simply ‘not here’.
“The management has adopted a ‘radio silence’ policy to the legitimate protests of its employees.”
About 70 Unite members at the charity will strike over the massive wage cuts on 12 June, following the one-day strike on 29 May that saw all Lewisham services closed and others in the capital operating with relief staff only. Picket lines were set up at four major services including Equinox’s central office in Southwark Bridge Road.
Nicky Marcus said: “CEO Bill Puddicombe rushed through the well-attended, good natured picket line in a particularly unnerved and flustered fashion, rattling the door desperately when the entry system failed as though an unruly mob were at his heels rather than his own employees politely asking reasonable questions about their uncertain futures.
“Rather than sitting down to negotiate with Unite, Equinox management appears to have spent its time wiping from its relief worker/locum list any worker who refused to cross the official picket lines – blacklisting them from all future employment with Equinox; victimising them for their legitimate trade union activity.
“Unite demands that these vengeful attacks on relief workers cease and the management gets back around the table to address the issues at hand.
“We are calling on the charity’s board, Equinox stakeholders and commissioners to use their considerable influence to do all they can to make this irresponsible management see sense.”
The management is proposing the cuts for frontline workers directly working with some of the most vulnerable people in society – and, as a result, most staff are facing cuts of between £4,000 to £8,000-a-year.
In April, Unite criticised Bill Puddicombe accepting – for the first time in Equinox Care’s history – a performance related bonus while cutting workers’ wages.
Equinox Care is a social care organisation which offers specialist care to vulnerable men and women with alcohol, drug and mental health problems in various residential and community-based services.