A union is demanding answers after shifts were offered at a Glasgow care home during industrial action.

On Tuesday three care homes in Glasgow saw staff walk out in the first ever private care strike in Scotland.

Members of the GMB union voted for the action following a takeover by Silverline from previous operator Four Seasons.

The three homes are now administed by Minster Care Group, and the union has accused management of a series of assaults on pay and conditions, including withdrawing a previous pay offer and reducing overtime rates.

Over 100 staff were balloted on strike action, with a majority voting to walk out on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, the union is now demanding clarification after at least one of the homes offered work to agency staff during the industrial action.

It's understood two shifts were offered at £12.02 per hour for a 7.45-20.00 shift at the Cardonald Care Home via the Florence agency.

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GMB said the offer to staff at Cardonald, Stobhill and Baillieston gives care workers £11.03 an hour with domestic staff getting £10.50, a rise of 8p an hour.

Florence advertises itself as a way to "avoid a shift storm" and states on its website that over 4,000 organisations use its more than 90,000 staff to fill shifts.

The union is now demanding clarification over whether agency staff have been used to cover roles occupied by its members, or to cover for staff which have been used elsewhere, which it said would be illegal.

Kirsty Nimmo, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “It sums up the attitude and actions of this company that it is enlisting agency staff while its own workers have been forced into unprecedented industrial action.

The Herald:

“It only adds insult to injury that the agency staff are being given hourly wages far in excess of what their staff have been offered.

“The owners of these care homes owe their staff a great deal. Firstly, they owe them decency, respect and fairness but now they are also owed an explanation.

“Managers must tell them exactly how many agency staff have been working during this strike and exactly why?”

While agency staff are regularly used to cover shifts and fill gaps in the care sector, Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 states agency workers cannot be provided to fulfil "the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action" or "the duties normally performed by any other worker employed by the hirer and who is assigned by the hirer to perform the duties normally performed by the first worker".

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The UK government introduced legislation to repeal that legislation, with effect from July 21, 2022.

However, that was challenged by trade unions and subsequently overturned by the High Court, meaning regulation 7 applied once again from 10 August 2023.

Silverline said it was operating within the relevant laws and had a duty of care to residents.

A spokesperson said: "The welfare of residents is paramount and contingency measures are in place to ensure the continuation of quality care at each of the homes during the strike action.

“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 above both the rates required by the National Care Home Contract and also the National Living Wage, plus an improved overtime offering. 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 have noted the First Minister’s comments in his press statement and look forward to receiving his letter, as well any assistance he can offer. The pay rates we have implemented are directly linked to what operators receive in fee rates set out in the National Care Home Contract.

“If it is no longer deemed appropriate then the First Minister and his colleagues at the Scottish Government have the power to increase fees to operators and this will enable staff to be paid more.”

Florence has been contacted for comment.