Acorn union calls for negotiations over care workers’ conditions

Members of the Acorn community union held a lively picket on 19 April 2024 outside the offices of GloriaVD, an agency that the union accuses of not treating her staff fairly, leaving some destitute.

As we reported in March, GloriaVD is one of many agencies recruiting care workers abroad, often in Africa, to work in the UK on a sponsored visa. Acorn members working for Gloria complain that they were charged thousands of pounds for visas that cost a few hundred pounds, and not given enough work to make a living.

Adeola, an Acorn member, explained why she joined the protest:

“I’m here to support Acorn in solidarity for people who are being exploited. They came into the country to work, they’ve not come to be vagabonds, but to contribute. They need to be paid enough to live and to send something back to their families back home.

“People from other countries sold their properties, took loans from the bank in order to come over here to work so they could have a better life and take care of their families back home many people are struggling here. We are just here today to challenge them to tell them that humans need to be treated fairly, they are working and they need their salaries.”

As she’s talking another driver honks their horn in support.

With 165,000 care sector vacancies in the UK, it seems odd that these care workers can’t get enough work. The problem is that their visa only allows them to work for the agency that sponsored them to come to the UK.

Dave Aldwinkle, an organiser with Acorn

“We invited Gloria (Van Dunem, Director of GloriaVD Health Care Ltd) today, we have tried to engage with her. We were promised a negotiation two months ago, but she is refusing to engage with the fact that her workers are underpaid and she needs to pay them. This has escalated to today’s picket because she is not engaging. We want to see a resolution to this, so I would say to Gloria get in touch, were available whenever you are.

“We have dozens of members employed by GloriaVD, spread across Yorkshire and beyond, they not here today because if they can’t afford not to take a shift. Care workers can be called at a moment’s notice and if they refuse to do the shift they can be sacked. If they’re sacked they can lose their visa. These workers are in a volatile, vulnerable position. Acorn is a community union, members who work for GloriaVD organised today’s action and it’s being supported by other local members of the union.”

Gloria Van Dunem commented:

“I have been severely harassed, unjustly by Acorn Union in the recent time. I have not refused to engage with them however, it was the case that they did not take my availability into consideration in fixing meeting times.

“I have good responses to all your questions but I am currently taking legal advice and therefore not in a position to say anything about the issues raised. My Solicitors will be in contact with Acorn in due course.

“I can assure you that all the allegations are spurious, with no basis and they will accordingly be properly addressed soon.”

 

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