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Underpaid and undervalued: Leicestershire care workers threatened with sack if they do not sign new contracts

By Tom Barker
June 28, 2020

One-hundred frontline care workers at a residential home in Leicestershire are being told they will be sacked if they refuse to sign new contracts with pay cuts of up to 30%.

It’s been suggested that the management at Leicestershire County Care Ltd are using the pandemic as cover for plans that they have long wanted to push through. They claim that operational costs have become unaffordable over the last few months, even though the city council provided close to £200,000 in additional funding to help during lockdown. Similar funding has been provided by Leicestershire County Council as well.

The Director of LCCL, Dr Davie Vive-Kananda, also runs Essex County Care Ltd (ECCL). Together with LCCL, these companies are reportedly worth close to £20million. Like many other health profiteers, these businesses frequently hit the headlines for cutting corners and negligence. Only last month, a home owned by LCCL in Leicester was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission and placed into special measures after it emerged that staff were routinely being ‘thumped’ and ‘strangled’ by one resident, with no adequate training provided to deal with violence.

In 2018, a care home owned by Essex County Homes run by Essex County Care Ltd was closed after a damning inspection by the CCG which led to Essex County Council withdrawing the firm’s contract. Last year a planning application from Essex County Care Ltd to transform the home into student accommodation was turned down by the council after it emerged that, amongst other things, the plan “failed to provide a satisfactory living environment for future occupants”, with 49 students allegedly proposed to share one kitchen!

Private Care Industry

But LCCL and ECCL are not isolated examples. HC-One is Britain’s largest care home operator, with 329 homes employing 22,000 workers. Back in May, HC-One made the headlines for refusing to pay staff for taking time off of work due to being infected with Covid-19!

In one particularly shocking instance, management at an HC-One care home in Scotland were accused of belittling staff’s concerns, telling staff that they were overreacting and causing panic by taking temperatures, and locking away vital PPE on grounds that it did not need to be used. 12 people subsequently died at that care home.

HC-One has paid out more than £48million in dividends over the last two years, but has paid no corporation tax since its foundation in 2011. On average in 2017, the private for-profit care sector rakes in £700 per resident per week. This number is likely much higher today. Yet low paid pregnant workers at HC-One are reportedly forced onto Statutory Sick Pay (£95 a week) if they “choose” to “exercise social distancing and not attend work” during the pandemic.

But poor conditions in HC-One homes were regular news stories even before the pandemic, with a special edition of Panorama covering one of their homes in Croydon back in 2014. More than a thousand elderly people have now perished in their homes during the pandemic.

A judicial review of the government’s handling of care homes during the pandemic is currently being requested Dr Cathy Gardner, specifically around the discharge of elderly patients into care homes without first being tested. Matt Hancock claims that the government threw a “protective ring” around care homes, but 16,000 who have died in this sector suggests otherwise. As does the government’s guidance dated March 12 that it is “very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected” –  even while the virus was running amok in Italian care homes. This article provides an excellent overview of what went wrong in the approach care homes.

What you can do

East Midlands Unison has asked that complaints are raised with the CEO of Leicestershire County Care Ltd: Davie Vive, at 57-59 Avenue Road, Westcliff on Sea, SS0 7PJ

Write to Nicholas Rushton, leader of the County Council who commission the homes and previously owned and operated nine of the homes: nicholas.rushton@leics.gov.uk

Write to Peter Souslby, Leicester City Mayor: themayor@leicester.gov.uk

Please also sign the petition here: https://action.unison.org.uk/page/61135/petition/1

This NHS anniversary weekend Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July, Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and We Own It, are calling for nationwide local events and a national online rally on Sunday 5th July at 4:30 PM to say, ‘Our NHS deserves better’ – you can watch on all our YouTube channels and Facebook pages live.

Follow this link 👉 https://www.facebook.com/events/286029719418786/ click ‘going’ and invite your friends