CARE workers supporting vulnerable people in Powys claim they have been stripped of their paid break times and must now work longer hours.

The union UNISON claims private care firm, Shaw Healthcare has told employees they must agree the changes, or they would be sacked and re-engaged on weaker contracts - a practice commonly known as a threat to “fire and rehire”.

They also say the firm has refused to negotiate with representatives from UNISON.


UNISON says Shaw’s care staff will no longer have a paid 30-minute break and their shifts have been extended by half an hour.

They also say Shaw has banned staff from eating prepared food with residents at meal times, which was a contractual right. Now staff will be allowed to eat ‘leftovers’ if they pay.

A care worker who spoke anonymously said: “I can’t begin to tell you the negative emotions I am feeling right now almost to the point where I feel like I can’t go on.

"The feelings of being bullied, threatened and degraded are paramount at the moment.”

Another added: “We know what we mean to the residents and we always put them first. We gave up seeing our own families to look after them during Covid so when, as a parting shot, the company asked us to think of the service, I just didn’t feel like a valued member of staff.”

John Byrne, UNISON Powys County branch secretary, said: “Shaw healthcare is exploiting hard-working staff, who are already low paid. Care workers give everything to support people in our community, but their employer has been bullying them to give up their rights.

“These are local jobs and it is right for the council to investigate and ensure all care workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.  Ultimately, directly provided council care services are the best guarantee of standards for staff and services users.”

County Times:

Abigail Katsande, regional operational director for Shaw healthcare said the company had “invested millions of pounds in our employees’ salaries as well as offering a wide range of other benefits designed to make their wages go further and to support their wellbeing”.

“There has not been a pay cut," she continued.

"We have been in consultation for the last three months regarding proposed changes that aligned Powys’ residents’ wellbeing in line with the rest of Shaw, and best care practice in the UK.

"Previously, employees were paid for lunch breaks but not for handovers of residents’ care for 15 minutes either side of their daily shifts.

“Our proposals, to which over 99 per cent of carers have agreed to, introduce this practice as contractual rather than optional.

"Cooked meals for employees at the care homes are also heavily subsidised by Shaw meaning they pay a small amount per meal, and by comparison lower than the NHS canteen meals.”

The union has also written an open letter to Powys County Council warning the authority of its care contractor’s behaviour and said the firm must be reprimanded.

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: "The county council can confirm it has received a letter from trade unions and will respond to that letter in due course."