Cornwall deferring pay talks for coronavirus care workers is ‘insulting’, say unions

A decision to defer pay talks for 2,500 Cornish workers, including those caring for the elderly, using coronavirus as an excuse, has been branded as ‘insulting and hypocritical’  today (Friday 1 May) by the three unions representing staff.

The unions – Unite, the GMB and Unison – said the announcement today by Corserv, which is owned by Cornwall Council, to defer pay talks until September blaming cash flow and coronavirus, contrasts ‘poorly’ with  neighbouring Devon which has awarded its care workforce a pay rise from this April.

The Cornish workforce are key workers such as qualified care staff caring for elderly and isolated vulnerable people in their own homes and also looking after people who have had Covid-19 being discharged from hospital to newly opened ‘isolation units’ in the community where they are recovering.

Fire and rescue services are also employed within Corserv, as are those in social housing and road maintenance.

The unions are urging the public to write to the county’s six Conservative MPs and local councillors asking for a ‘decent’ pay rise for the workforce.

Unite regional officer Deborah Hopkins said: “What we have here is a situation that is both hypocritical and insulting. Every Thursday the people of Cornwall clap for NHS and social care staff, yet within 24 hours, the very workers lauded as ‘heroes’ are denied even the prospect of a basic pay rise.

“Our hard working care workers, who are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to provide personal care and support for the most needy and vulnerable in Cornwall, have today been informed by their employer Corserv that, except for the Foundation Living Wage  they will not receive a cost of living pay rise from April 2020.

“The announcement that pay talks are deferred until September on the grounds that there is no money because of coronavirus and to say there is no guarantee of a pay increase even then is an insult to key workers.

“This shows us that local and central government are not prepared to reward the vital work employees in Corserv, which is owned by Cornwall Council, are undertaking every single day during this coronavirus crisis.

 “We urge the public to write to their local councillor and MP asking for a decent above inflation pay rise for our key workers, as our neighbours in Devon have done.”

GMB regional organiser Helen Coley said: “This is a real slap in the face for our members working in Conserv.

 “Just last night we saw people come out to applaud NHS, care and essential workers, whilst their employer Corserv, their own council and the government short-changed them.

 “It is of the utmost importance that we see these staff paid what they deserve, and this process must restart immediately so we recognise all the hard work that the staff have been doing in unbelievable circumstances.”

Unison local government branch said: “What a disgrace, these workers have been bending over backwards, changing job role and shift patterns to accommodate all the changes and this is what they get as a ‘thanks’.

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