Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/744/15757
Ten days that shook the Trust
A Unison steward, east midlands
I work as a support worker in health. Many years ago I was transferred over from the NHS to a trust which is a charity. In October 2011 the trust started to attack the workforce. Some of the nurses faced pay cuts of £10-20,000. Hourly rates were to be cut from £14 to £8.
I organised meetings, produced newsletters, petitions, and letters and got an MP involved who raised it in Parliament and I used the press. The nurses even produced their own document to counter the trust's one.
I stressed the need to build for action but many workers hoped for a solution from the union's solicitors. Then the solicitors said there was nothing they could do.
The trust have now come back to attack the support workers. Some of those who were TUPEd (transferred from the NHS) like myself could lose over £300 a month. The new contract means a 50% cut in sick pay, and longer hours. We are taking a different approach this time. Since news of this broke the union branch has held two meetings and we have recruited 27 new members. And at our last meeting it was decided to go for a consultative ballot.
What has angered people is they have not had a pay rise for four years. And in 2010-2011 we were told everybody was foregoing a pay rise. But in the same year Unison has found that the five executive directors awarded themselves a 25% pay rise. Four of them are on over £100,000 a year!
Also five of the trust companies made a surplus of £2.1 million which they donated as gift aid to the parent company and in the same year they cut workers' wages by £10,000-£20,000.
The feeling at the last Unison meeting is we have to fight. In the region we now have nearly half the workforce in the union.
We are trying to build links with the Unison stewards in other regions. We should have done this earlier.
It is very difficult to organise in a company whose workforce is non union, but it can be done. This means leafleting the workplaces with union material in your time. It means discussing privately with other workers away from the boss.
I am confident we can get a result. If not the fight will still go on. Hopefully it will be Ten days that Shook the Trust.
In The Socialist 28 November 2012: