The Equinox Care chief executive verbally abused Unite members leafleting a conference in Lewisham on Tuesday 2 July. He also snatched Unite placards from National Shop Stewards Network chair Rob Williams and ripped it up. Rob pointed out to chief executive Bill Puddicombe that he was destroying Unite property, but this was to no avail. Many of those attending the event happily took leaflets and indicated their sympathy with Equinox staff.
Unite members were leafleting a care conference in Lewisham to publicise savage cuts in salaries - as much as 25% - that are being imposed on support workers. Workers were told to sign up for new contracts or be sacked. They were told that their signatures would not be accepted if they added 'signed under duress'. Now Mr Puddicombe says he will not talk to reps about the pay cuts and refuses Unite's repeated offer to take the matter to ACAS, the independent arbitrator.
Earlier this week staff handed in a vote of no confidence in Bill Puddicombe’s leadership to the Equinox board. In staff meetings where the proposals were explained by management some staff were in tears fearing that they would be unable to pay their rent or support their families. Concerns have also been raised that the organisation’s executive has lost all interest in service quality in its pursuit of cost cutting. Faced with opposition management have shouted at staff and adopted a bullying approach, which is particularly dangerous and inappropriate in a social care organisation.
But the mood of members has not weakened and further strike action is planned.
You can help by sending messages of support to Equinox workers via Unite regional industrial officer Jamie.Major@unitetheunion.org
An earlier Equinox protest is pictured.