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Photo essay: Barnet’s disastrous privatisation of elderly care

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Strike rally 2007

Photo: Fremantle strike rally 2007

In 2007, a group of Barnet careworkers were forced to sign a harsh new contract by their private sector employer, the Fremantle Trust (they were threatened with the sack if they didn't sign).

The careworkers had been employed by Barnet council at council homes for the elderly, but became Fremantle Trust employees when the council outsourced care services earlier in the decade.

Their salaries and conditions were protected at the time of transfer - but just before Christmas 2006, the Trust made its move. With the new contract, the trust cut careworkers' annual leave allowance by 11 days and introduced a statutory sick leave scheme.

Worst of all was the abolishing of the weekend enhancement payments that many careworkers relied on for a living wage. They'd been enhanced payments on Saturdays and Sundays - important extra money for people on a base rate of about £8 an hour. Barnet Unison estimated that some careworkers lost 30% of their pay. So much for promises of a benevolent private employer - at the time of their transfer to the Trust, careworkers were promised that their salaries and conditions would be safe.

'Oh yes. They said it was all going to be super duper and we were going to be fine.' Fremantle careworker Carmel Reynolds, 2007.

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Kate Belgrave blogs on the experience of public service users facing cuts.

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