A plan for emergency care workers to start work at 01.30 in the morning to look after some of Greenwich’s most vulnerable residents has been branded as ‘bizarre’ by Unite,  Britain and Ireland’s largest union.

Unite is also angry that more than 2,000 vulnerable people will now be visited by only one Telecare Service worker in an emergency, instead of two currently, when the Royal Borough of Greenwich introduces its proposal next Monday (2 September).

The seven Telecare Service workers have voted unanimously to strike continuously from 00.01 on Friday 13 September in defence of the service.

Vulnerable adults can call the service when they have a fall or need help – it provides reassurance so that people can continue to live independently rather than go into care, which would be the more expensive option.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The council has a 5 star Telecare service that it is attacking without taking into consideration the views of the Telecare workers with many years of loyal service.

“The dispute stems from council bosses wanting to restrict visits/calls to one staff member for emergencies and also to introduce a new night shift which begins bizarrely at 01.30. Who starts work at such a strange time?

“Two carers are required for those with such conditions as dementia and curvature of the spine who have fallen and then require assistance involving the raiser lifting chair.

“To compound this, the council is proposing to change its long-held policy of not charging people on housing benefit for their Telecare Service. This will result in some of the vulnerable Greenwich residents paying £6.00 per week, £312 per year, which they can ill-afford. 

“The proposed change to this charging policy will result in many vulnerable people withdrawing from the Telecare Service and the unintended consequence will be more costly care packages.

“We have tried to negotiate with the authority and have produced a workable rota. We have also called on the council to fill the vacancies that currently exist - 178 staffing hours are vacant each week.

“We now have a window of opportunity before the strike action starts on 13 September and we call on the council to urgently reconsider this flawed, mean-spirited plan.”

Unite Greenwich branch secretary Danny Hoggan said: “Telecare provides a valuable service to adults of all ages who need support to live independently in the community.

“The support can be as simple has someone getting stuck in a chair or a serious fall in the home that could be life threatening.

“The social care budget is £18 million underfunded, and downgrading the Telecare Service can only lead to more expensive carer packages.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.