Scotland's First Minister has urged a care home operator to avert looming strike action in Glasgow.

Humza Yousaf has written to the Minster Care Group to call on executives to negotiate with care workers preparing to strike at a home in his south side constituency.

Cardonald Care Home is one of three in Glasgow run by Minster Care where industrial action looms after the firm, who recently took over the homes, was accused of attempting to slash the wages of staff and withdraw official recognition of the workers' trade union.

GMB Scotland said the strike is supported by 98% of its members.

It would be the first at Scottish care homes and come after care workers overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer at the three homes, Ballieston, Cardonald, and Stobhill Care Homes.

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Other politicians from across the city have also called on executives to open talks to reassure residents and protect the wages of care workers.

Mr Yousaf, who is SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, has written to Mahesh Patel, chief executive of Minster, and paid tribute to staff at the homes while urging action to resolve the dispute.

He wrote: “Social care workers provide a vital service. Their work providing personal care and social support to residents is essential to the running of care homes that are rooted in compassion.”

The SNP MSP, who took credit for averting threatened NHS strikes when health secretary, also voiced concern about the threat to derecognise the GMB.

He wrote: “My own relationship with trade unions has been positive and constructive.

“Even where there have been disagreements, my approach has been to always continue constructive dialogue to try and find a solution.

“I hope you can offer reassurances that this will be your approach going forward.”

The homes, where 150 residents are cared for by 200 staff, were previously run by the Four Seasons group before being taken over by Silverline and is now administered by Minster Care Group.

The Herald:

Kirsty Nimmo, GMB Scotland organiser, said the new management is attempting to drive down pay and conditions, slashing overtime pay, for example, and reneging on previous pay offers.

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She said the overwhelming support for strikes, when more than 100 staff were balloted with the majority backing action, exposes the anger of staff and their refusal to accept "an assault" on their pay and conditions.

She said: “Care workers are desperately worried for the residents they care for but also for their own families as the new owners refuse to protect their wages and conditions.

“The staff deserve clarity and reassurance but instead have been plunged into continuing uncertainty and chaos. It cannot and must not go on.

“They appreciate Humza Yousaf’s obvious appreciation of the jobs they do and only wish the company would show the same respect for their crucial work.

“It is time for this company to reassure staff, avert these strikes end what has been a hugely worrying time for the workers and the residents.”

A spokesperson for Silverline said:“The previous management team attempted, without success, to engage with the GMB to agree matters in relation to staff wages prior to our involvement, including the proposal to alter overtime pay arrangements.

“We met the GMB at the offices of ACAS in July and explained that, while we wanted all care teams to be paid more, the trading situation of the homes means this is impossible and the alternative is that the company goes into insolvency.

“Our proposal for wage rates (which has been implemented) increased the lowest rate for care staff from £10.50 to £10.90 from 1st April 2023, which is in line with the requirements of the National Care Home Contract and indeed 48p per hour more than the National Living Wage.

“Our proposal for overtime remains the same as the previous management, being an additional £1 per hour. There is no contractual obligation for staff to work overtime, or to be paid overtime at enhanced rates. 

“GMB representatives at the meeting failed to respect or accept our explanations of the financial situation and merely repeated demands for a minimum rate of £15 per hour, way in excess of the National Contract requirements. We therefore parted having not reached agreement.

“We welcome the intervention of the First Minister and a number of MSPs and look forward to receiving any assistance they can offer. We have pointed out that the pay rates we have implemented are directly linked to what operators receive in fee rates.

“This rate is set out in the National Care Home Contract – if it is no longer deemed appropriate then the Scottish Government has the power to increase fees to operators and this will enable staff to be paid more.”