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Protests hit Barchester as union is derecognised

Workers at Barchester homes in Banbury and Worksop are among those protesting today at the chain’s decision to derecognise the union.

This is the third of four consecutive days of protests that will continue tomorrow, and which involve eight Barchester homes at locations such as Ross-on-Wye, Ashington, Dudley, Derby, Banbury (pictured), Worksop and Chinnor.

Barchester’s website says that its 30,000+ employees are supported by the company and “will be rewarded for commitment to delivering outstanding care and support to residents”. A company statement says: “When you join the Barchester family, we don’t just want you to feel valued, we want you to truly love what you do.”

Specifically, the company adds that as part of a commitment to providing premium working conditions and sector-leading staff, three COVID-related bonuses were paid during 2020-21, plus an annual net pay increase of 8.6 per cent.

GMB’s stance opposing mandatory vaccination was a key decision to derecognise the union, Barchester said, adding: “We can guarantee that disaffiliation will not result in lower working conditions for our colleagues.”

In response, workers union GMB describes moves by Barchester Healthcare to derecognise the union as “a fresh attack on carers’ rights”. GMB is currently campaigning for minimum pay for social care workers of £15 an hour.  

Rachel Fagan, GMB lead organiser, said: “De-recognition of unions by Barchester is just the thin end of the wedge on what could be a fresh attack on employment rights and value in the social care sector. This isn’t levelling-up, this is levelling-down.  

“If the Government genuinely wants to help level-up low-paid workers and forgotten communities it cannot possibly be relaxed about care bosses stepping up the decade long race-to-the-bottom on the rights of care workers.”

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