Care charity workers knock back pay offer


Staff at Cornerstone have voted by 92% to reject a pay offer, which the organisation describes as very fair

31st October 2018 by Gareth Jones 36 Comments

Staff at a social care charity have voted overwhelmingly to reject a pay offer.

Unison members working at Cornerstone have rejected their employer’s pay deal in a consultative ballot – with 92% of members knocking it back.

The union said it had never seen such a strength of feeling among its members in the charity sector.

In response, Cornerstone said it did not feel the vote reflected the views of the majority of its workforce and that it believed it had made a very fair pay offer.

Unison is calling on Cornerstone to get back around the table and negotiate a deal for the staff - who support people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism and dementia across Scotland.

Deborah Clarke, Unison regional organiser, said: “This ballot result is an amazing show of strength by a predominantly female workforce and shows the tide is turning. Employers can no longer expect to get cheap labour on the backs of low-paid women.

“Cornerstone says it believes in fair work, so it beggars belief that they are refusing to engage with their staff on fair pay. Cornerstone needs to listen to their dedicated and exceptional workforce and get back around the negotiating table and deliver a fair pay deal for staff.”

Mike Kirby, the union’s Scottish secretary, said the result of the ballot shows carers feel they deserve more. He said: “Caring roles, which are carried out predominantly by women, remain chronically undervalued. Today’s ballot result shows that carers know they are worth more and are prepared to fight for the pay they deserve.

“Our carers carry out some of the most important roles in our communities and they need to be paid fairly for the vital services they deliver.”

Edel Harris, chief executive of Cornerstone, said that the charity was committed to ensuring its staff felt valued.

She said: “Cornerstone has embarked on an ambitious journey to transform social care in the UK. At the heart of our strategy, Local Cornerstone, is a commitment to genuinely valuing social care as a profession. Obviously we are disappointed to see that 92% of people who responded to the ballot rejected what we feel is a very fair pay offer.

“We are not confident, from feedback we regularly receive from our colleagues, that the Unison membership vote reflects the views of the majority of our workforce.”

Annie Gunner Logan, director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS), said social care organisations faced a challenge to implement the Scottish Living Wage as resources required from the government to deliver improved terms often do not arrive.

“Our partners in the trades unions are well aware of the challenges we are facing in this regard,” she said.

“Providers in our sector are, as a consequence, looking at innovative ways to reconfigure their support offer in a way that can both accommodate funding constraints and enable them to continue to value their staff highly and reward them appropriately.

“In many respects, Cornerstone has been in the vanguard of such innovation and I know that the outcome of this ballot will come as a major disappointment to a team of people who are trying hard to improve the working conditions of a predominantly female social care workforce.”

31st October 2018 by Scared staff member

92% of how many? I didn't vote and the stewards spent ages trying to stir it up along with the woman from unison. In all my years Ive seen loads of change but I know the managers are trying their best to raise our wages and I'm fed up with all the lies the union are saying. I'm joining a different union as Unison doent speak for me or my workmates. Sorry but it needs to be said. Don't trust unison.

2nd November 2018 by A Whyte

As Chief Executive of a local charity, I would very much like to know the actual %tage of Cornerstone staff who are members of Unison - this would then reflect more accurately the full extent of unhappiness with the pay offer. As such, this has not been declared yet and it makes it impossible to understand the true state of affairs.

2nd November 2018 by Disappointed worker

I don’t understand why UNISON don’t say the numbers otherwise it doesn’t mean much at all?

2nd November 2018 by M Crawford

I work for cornerstone and am very Di sappointed with the result of the ballot however unison membership is relatively low within Cornerstone and despite requests they will not tell us how many responded to the ballot so we don’t know if it is 94% of two, ten or a hundred. I was a long standing unison member but I am fed up with their negativity and deliberate lying and the personal attacked on my colleagues are not said in my name. I voted in favour of the pay award and then cancelled my membership and I know others who’ve done the same. Cornerstone is trying to do something to value social care - paying front line workers £10.10 an hour going up to £12 is more than any other company I know of.

2nd November 2018 by A cornerstone member of staff - worked there for 9

I want to convey my disassociation from the recent communications by Unison. None of that represents me or my views and, for what it's worth, cornerstone leaders and board have my complete support in challenging it

2nd November 2018 by Service Manager

I have been involved with the LCASTs and have absolutely seen individuals and teams grow in confidence and experience, of course it has its challenges but on the whole I think everyone involved would agree the positives outweigh these undoubtedly. I think the support available to staff is (still) second to none and that the people we support are benefiting from this new way of working and having the people who know them best at the centre of their support. As a Service Manager of course I have felt some unsettlement throughout periods of change but feel this is only natural. I am very proud to work for Cornerstone and look forward to the opportunities it brings in the future. In no way do I feel threatened or unfairly treated but see the need for change within the social care sector as a whole and the pioneering and brave approach we are taking.In a time where we see so much unnecessary negative behaviour and communication from unison I wanted to share a little bit of positivity.

2nd November 2018 by Steve Kindon

Very surprised that Third Force News would publish this without real numbers. Poor journalism. Unison are obviously aware that the real numbers would open them to ridicule.

2nd November 2018 by Concerned observer

Disturbing to see “Cornerstone staff” actively criticise their own colleagues for voting No. Just because someone votes no does not mean they should be treated this way. Where’s the respect for each other Would these staff treat the service users in same way I wonder - everyone has a right to voice their opinions. Very concerning behaviour.

3rd November 2018 by Team member W dunbartonshire

Nobody here has criticised their colleagues for saying no to the pay offer. Let’s be clear about that. The comments relate to a unison press release where 94% is supposedly representative of the whole workforce when most of us know that this is not true. The staff conference this week (no unison stewards came by the way) was full of nearly 200 happy, positive highly motivated people focused on providing great care & support. We don’t want people dragging us down and attacking us for pioneering a new approach. You’d think a union would welcome better pay, better training, trust & freedom to make own decisions but they’ve fought this every step of the way. I guess if staff are happy and well paid and trusted there is no reason to be in a union. Maybe that’s what they are frightened of. Anyway just tell us truthfully how many actual people rejected the pay offer and then we can work out the % for ourselves?

3rd November 2018 by Disappointed Employee

Is it any wonder that union membership is on the decline year-on-year in the UK. Not supporting organisations. Misrepresenting organisations. Twisting the facts. Seen it for weeks now. Not putting my name as seen how they have bullied and attacked other colleagues on social media. Shocking behaviour. Who is holding them to account??Definitely not representing the majority of colleagues at Cornerstone. I am so proud working for this organisation. How much more could we achieve without them. Food for thought!

3rd November 2018 by Very Sceptical Trade Unionist

As a relatively new member of staff with Cornerstone, I am perplexed and confused by Unison's claims. As someone who at the age of 18 became involved in trade unionism with COHSE, then NUPE, NALGO, UNITE, and GMB I have to say my experience of Unison has been very poor. My experience of Unison to date has been very poor, not that I have met any but yet sleight, manipulate colleagues, particularly on social media, in an attempt to bring attention to themselves. Again from my experience and listening to colleagues it would appear that in my area 94% would think Unison are are a joke!

3rd November 2018 by Unison member

UNISON stewards and union members have supported Local Cornerstone from the beginning. It was due to the UNISON stewards that team members are being paid £10 just now and that the pilot is voluntary. Of course as a staff and union member i want better pay and more time with the wonderful people we support. £10 is not enough money for the huge responsibility that being a team member brings. New staff are being paid £10 per hour and doing the same work as support workers (Aberdeen) How is that fair! I’ve been with Cornerstone 15 years. Why can’t I be paid the same a these new starts??The attacks on here and Facebook are shocking behaviour for charity workers. We as staff are “UNISON”so they are attacking their own colleagues. It’s shows everyone what a shocking culture we have..... If my colleagues were talking about the people we support in this way they would be disciplined. I want to be a part of this but be paid fairly. Shame on you for bringing Cornerstone down.

3rd November 2018 by LCAST - Team member

I work in a new team and voted noI have had lots of support from The union colleagues along the way. I’ve also met the Union officers.They have supported us a lot ensuring we got £10 per hour and our contracts were sorted to protect us during the pilot.We also spoke to them about the training and the IT equipment not working except for emails.I feel that £10 is not enough for the new role which has loads of new tasks to learn. We have to do a lot of stuff in our own time unpaid.I want the union negotiating on my behalf to ensure it works and is a success. From my experience the senior people are “nice” but don’t know what they are doing.I also don’t recognise all this hostility and bad behaviour coming from so called staff. The fact they are not in a union themselves is telling as they are only in it for themselves. I’m doing this because of the person I support and I want to earn more money and get more trainingEdels disciples are bring us all down and damaging cornerstone in the process.Hope more people will join us and that the union continue to protect us.

4th November 2018 by Sad Employee

I actually feel sorry for some of the Stewards particularly the new ones. Cornerstone was always going to pay more for this new role and it was always voluntary. This was decided way before we even spoke to the union as part of the research phase. Again more lies from certain UNISON staff who are feeding even the Stewards wrong information.

4th November 2018 by HC

I have cancelled my unison membership. I was increasingly fed up of their ‘attacks’ on social media and misrepresentation of things and enough is enough. I did vote yes to the pay claim first!

4th November 2018 by Max

Yeah I think they are taking advantage of the period of change to show their members that they are getting ‘results’.. I don’t like the shroud of confusion and mis-information they create in their communications, it is not helpful, polarises peoples views and just raises the heart beat!

4th November 2018 by Peat burns

The people at the top have there cheerleaders doing there dirty work as per worried the workforce have started too see through them . Everyone wants numbers . But to they know of the report the board got commissioned but did not like the findings so did not publish it . WHY NOT

4th November 2018 by David

Shame on you Cornerstone, used to be a great Charity to work for, now just a company interested in lining the pockets of its leadership. Very sad times.

4th November 2018 by Maria

I wonder how many of the comments of support on here are from front line workers. Management says it wants to value us in one breath then tells us 1% is good enough in the other. I will probably be forced to leave because of the rubbish conditions which would break my heart.

4th November 2018 by Member of EF

What report are you referring to? The Local Cornerstone year one report is available for anyone to read. Hard copies available upon request and all staff can see it on Microsoft Teams. The summary of the university of Strathclyde findings is contained within the LC year one report and the full university report is available for anyone to see. If you wanna or for Cornerstone and you took the time to actually read the Cornerstone communications you would know this. A copy of the LC year one report has been given to Deborah Clarke from UNISON as she is part of the evaluation group alongside Care Inspectorate, scottish government, SSSC and others. Ask her to share her copy with you. Nothing is hidden. Cornerstone is being funded by the Big Lottery to share the learning to inspire others to change. Everything is out in the open. The year one report is actually a very good reflection on what has worked well and the ‘even better ifs’. If anyone reading this post wants a copy just ask one of the Cornerstone Advice and Supoort Coordinators and they will send you a copy.

4th November 2018 by Employee

Shameful comments from obviously deluded staff members listening to a leadership team and board who just want to line there own pockets and not care about the staff at all Why would unison lie to its members surely that’s counter productive of the union to lie to what is a a members led union wise up people and look what’s happening to you

4th November 2018 by Anon

Too scared to put my name on this for fear of being pulled in at work, we are Constantly being pressured to join one of those teams and not sure if I will have a job next year, different messages every week nobody knows what they are doing and people leaving in droves. Please sit down and talk and give me some security and let me get back to doing my job.

4th November 2018 by Service users family

I find this very distressing to read if this is how you attack your own kind who are elected by you all to do the best they can for the staff and also for the service users then how are you treating the service users as a family Maher is like management to intervene in this matter and talk to the union people and do what is right for the ones who can’t make the decisions for them selfs don’t forget you all work for cornerstone but cornerstone work for the service users and I know some family’s are not happy with the way cornerstone are treating the staff and the way staff are treating there reps so please for the sake of the service users talk to each other compromise not a dirty word

4th November 2018 by Unison steward

As a union member all my working life I am proud to also be a Steward for this organisation and I am finding myself very disappointed that some people feel the need to attack other people's views. At a time when work arrangements and technology are changing the need for protection for all staff across the sector is stronger than ever.unions and collective bargaining are critically important to building a more just and sustainable workplace.

4th November 2018 by Missing Report

The report being referred to by stewards was commissioned by Cornerstone leadership.It was a study undertaken by the University of Strathclyde - Professor Cunningham. It’s a comprehensive and honest review of Local Cornerstone following interviews with staff with lots of information both good and bad about progress so far.This report was shared with the stewards and the evaluation group. The stewards have been advised that we are not permitted to share the report without permission which we have abided by. We are using the report as it matched our feedback from colleagues.This report should be shared with all staff so that we can all work together on the learnings and ensure the future success of the pilot.The stewards will continue to ask for the report to be published.The good news is that year two has been commissioned and interviews with staff across Cornerstone have commenced.

4th November 2018 by Concerned onlooker

As an onlooker I feel very concerned about what I am reading. It seems UNISON are simply trying to tear this company apart. I have been following cornerstone as they undergo this change, and have noticed that cornerstone is one of the leading charities for level of pay in Scotland. It seems UNISON are giving out numbers with no support as to scare staff. I admire the work the front line staff do as well as team leaders, management etc. Cornerstone you are doing a great job and from an outsider looking in you should continue your progress forward.

5th November 2018 by Truth

When people insult the staff and try to discredit a union that is concerning but when talks and negotiation go out the window and mud is flung those who do it while hiding behind anonymity have already lost... I support the union

5th November 2018 by Employee

When staff are bullied and harassed into joining a new way of working there is always problems , if you look at the model that cornerstone are trying to work towards you will see the pay scale on it it much more than what cornerstone are offering well done to the union reps for standing up against this sort of bullying and intimidation that staff receive to be part of this scheme I for one am a proud unison member who voted NO and who will always stand by the union say what you like about the union people in this company by remember they give there time effort up for you to make sure that you all get a fair deal

5th November 2018 by Susan Smith

(FROM TFN EDITOR) TFN encourages debate on this and other stories. However, we urge commentators to keep their comments impersonal - comments that name or criticise specific staff members have either been edited or removed.

5th November 2018 by Edel Harris, CEO, Cornerstone

I have come into work this morning and this ‘conversation’ has been brought to my attention by concerned colleagues. Can I please remind you that when you joined as an employee you signed up to adhere to our company values. One of our values is to be caring and that includes showing care to colleagues. Another value that we have is to be professional at all times. Therefore can I politely ask, that if you are an employee of Cornerstone that you refrain from using this public forum or any other social media site to air any grievances you might have. We have a team of coaches who are always available to answer any questions or listen to any concerns. For clarity nobody has been ‘forbidden’ from sharing the Local Cornerstone year one report. We have actively encouraged all colleagues to read it and a link to Microsoft Teams was included in our weekly post in August when the report was published. If you don’t work for Cornerstone and would like to see a copy please call the Advice and Support Coordinators on 0300 131 3333 Thank you

5th November 2018 by partner organisation

As a partner of Cornerstone, I too would like to know the number of people the 92% refers to. The lack of disclosure of this exact number is indicative in itself and makes it impossible for readers to get a true picture of the views of the workforce. Come on UNISON, if you have nothing to hide, put your numbers where your mouth is!

5th November 2018 by Manzi

I think and hope Cornerstone will listen and respond positively to the vote. 92% of the vote is the voice that can not be ignored. No matter which angle cornerstone looks at the this vote, the truth is that unison has spoken on behalf of staff who work tirelessly hard to make a difference in people’s lives and to give Cornerstone the name it deserves today. It’s time to listen and do the right thing.

5th November 2018 by Unison member

Yes cornerstone time to face the harsh reality that the members have spoken in one voice

5th November 2018 by Concerned

Imagine working for an organisation that encourages you to use your own social media accounts to rubbish the work of a union that’s supposed to be representing us? Fake news.

5th November 2018 by Ex staff member

Just read this for the first time so glad I left this organisation when I did Loved the service users But watching from the side lines it’s as if the company does not care about them it should be them that’s out first in all aspects not profit not position not prestige I guess if cornerstone and unison sit down and talk to each other these sort of things can be sorted out so come on cornerstone and unison think of the service users

7th November 2018 by ex-staff member

£10 an hour would be fantastic for support workers, however this is £10 an hour for members of a self-managing team, with a lot more responsibility on their shoulders. The Local Cornerstone model has set £12 an hour as the rate that this role should attract, however it is being stated that this is currently unaffordable - hence the reason why UNISON members have overwhelming rejected the pay offer. The company should start listening.