HUNDREDS of vulnerable people in Milton Keynes could be without their carers after many turned down a deal which could lower their wages.
Staff at Mears Care in Mount Farm were told on Thursday that a new pay scale would be implemented as a means of ‘standardisation’, but only three, of a estimated number of 30 staff, signed it.
Mears care for around 180 clients in the town, but their contract with Milton Keynes Council is up for tender.
One carer, who wished to remain anonymous, argued that she would lose up to £100 per week as a result of the new system, and that changes to the way travel costs are calculated meant that some employees would in fact be losing money by carrying out some jobs.
She feared that if staff did not sign the new agreement, they would lose their jobs.
“This new deal leaves a lot of vulnerable people in limbo,” she said. “Some of us will be taking home £100 a week less, and that will really hit hard.
“If we don’t sign this new deal, we could face losing our jobs and the people we care for risk going without the service they need.
“We aren’t just people who go in, help out and leave. We form relationships with the people we care for, and it could be a huge disruption for them if a new carer were to suddenly take over.”
Mears Care however defended its decision to change the way its carers are paid, saying that it would bring everyone within the company on to the same wage structure, and that some would in fact be better off as a result.
The company also said that the changes were being brought about to safe-guard employees rather than threaten them with unemployment.
Alan Long, executive director Mears said: “All staff within the Mears Care, Milton Keynes branch have been involved in a full and on-going consultation process about the standardisation of pay rates and mileage payments for care workers.
“Proposed contractual changes are designed to safeguard, rather than jeopardise the employment opportunities for all affected employees.
“Mears prides itself in providing the highest standards of home care and support services.
“These changes are about creating a fairer and more transparent system and will not affect the delivery or quality of the care that we provide.”