STRIKE action across West Dunbartonshire Council’s (WDC) home care services ‘needed to be taken’, a union representative has said.

Carers in the region have walked out for a second month in a row in a dispute over pay.

Last week, GMB Scotland confirmed staff working in home care services at the local authority would be taking industrial action on May 10, 13, and 14.

It comes after a recent pay grade review – carried out by West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) - reportedly failed to reflect staff's ‘increased responsibilities of delivering complex care and support’, according to the trade union. 

Home carers were moved from grade-three wages to grade-four, based on the local authority’s job evaluation scheme.

Clydebank Post: However, Shirley Furie, a union representative for West Dunbartonshire HSCP, told the Post that GMB Scotland and its members don’t agree with some of the scores within the evaluation.

Staff are calling on the council to move them to pay grade five with the union stating that a higher pay grade could be applied retrospectively.

Shirley said: “We’re here because there was a job evaluation a few months ago and home care staff went from a grade three [pay grade] to a grade four.

“GMB Scotland and its members feel there were two factors within the job evaluation where they scored quite low, so that’s what the dispute is.

“We have met with the council to put that point across and we’re waiting on the council to come back with some negotiation.

“We are urging the employer to come and speak to us and ask us to come back around the table so we can negotiate this to get it resolved.

“Folk don’t really want to be on a picket line. It’s a 365-day-a-year service and it’s vital. We are in a crisis.

“It doesn’t sit well with folk that they’re here [on a picket line] when folk need to be cared for and it’s not something we do easily but it’s the action we need to take to be listened to.”

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In April we reported that GMB Scotland announced that members had ‘overwhelmingly’ supported strike action over the same dispute.

Staff walked out on April 10 and April 11.

At the time the trade union said that the recent pay grade review had been the first review of West Dunbartonshire care workers’ roles in 16 years.

Clydebank Post: However, the council has since stated this was not the case and that on top of the recent job evaluation, reviews were carried out in 2007, 2008, and 2016.

WDC also say that the claim home carers are administering medication is false.

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire HSCP added: “We are committed to fair pay for home carers and following a thorough and robust job evaluation process the pay of a typical home carer has recently risen by at least £2500 per annum through regrading of the role.

“We continue to work with trade union representatives and while we expect disruption to our service during this industrial action, we are doing all we can to minimise this for our vulnerable service users.”