Workers had rejected a pay deal in a consultative ballot – with 92% of members knocking it back
A Scottish social care charity has withdrawn recognition from a trade union, in the midst of a bitter pay dispute.
Workers had rejected a pay deal in a consultative ballot – with 92% of members knocking it back.
However, there has been acrimony – not least online – with a clear deterioration of relations between employer and the union.
Bosses have accused the union of being mis-leading and hostile.
Now the charity has taken the drastic step of ending its voluntary recognition deal, which has been in place for 24 years.
Unison claims that it was only told of Cornerstone's decision at the same time as TFN was - at teatime on Wednesday (28 November).
The union also says charity bosses ripped up the recognition deal the day before management and the union were to meet with the concilliation service Acas to discuss the pay dispute.
Cornerstone, which employs 2,200 people across Scotland, provides vital care and support services for adults, young people and children across Scotland who live with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism, dementia and other support needs.
Management said it made its decision “after careful consideration and with no small measure of regret”.
The board said it moved after the deterioration of the relationship with Unison “began adversely impacting colleagues and the people they support”.
Edel Harris, chief executive of Cornerstone, said: “Our 24 year relationship with Unison has broken down to such an extent that it is having an adverse impact on colleagues and diverting senior management resource away from delivering on our strategy, at a critical point in its implementation.
“Despite our genuine attempts, in the last two years, to get back onto a more constructive footing, Unison has refused to change its approach and we have no alternative but to withdraw from our voluntary recognition agreement.
“Mis-leading and hostile statements from Unison, have caused alarm among our employees and, more importantly, raised unnecessary concern among the parents and guardians of those for whom we care, which is unforgivable.
“Our voluntary recognition agreement with Unison had the common objective of maintaining good industrial relations to further Cornerstone’s aims. Given, we are striving for better recognition and reward for those who work in social care, and do an incredible job of looking after some of the most vulnerable in our society, we are bewildered by Unison’s continued intransigence towards Cornerstone.
“This decision has no effect on how any of our colleagues, including those who wish to remain members of Unison or any other union, will be treated. We remain fully committed to listen and represent the views and interests of all Cornerstone colleagues, through positive channels of information and consultation, direct communications, and regular team briefings. We will continue to engage proactively with our Engagement Forum, which provides a voice for all of our people, union and non-union members alike.”
Deborah Clarke, Unison organiser for the voluntary sector, told TFN: “We are saddened to hear Cornerstone feels it needs to take this decision. We were due to meet at Acas to continue our talks over pay.
“Cornerstone have cancelled the meeting leaving staff concerned and confused. Unison does not recognise the picture painted by Cornerstone.
“Our members are the very people who care for Cornerstone's service users and these clients are always at the forefront of their minds, they care deeply about the people they support and the overall service at Cornerstone. Unison will now look at statutory recognition.
“However we urge Cornerstone to meet with Unison in the best interests of the staff and the people they support in a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute.”
NOTE – this is a breaking news story and will be updated accordingly.