Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/761/16524
Thera workers on strike
Gary Freeman, Unison Rep, South Derbyshire Healthcare, personal capacity
After an 82% vote for strike action, Unison members in Thera East Midlands (TEM) will be on a 24-hour strike starting on 18 April. The ballot also gives leeway for further strikes if necessary.
We will be protesting outside Thera's head office, in Thatcher's hometown, Grantham, that day, by coincidence, the day after her funeral.
TEM is one of a number of regional companies led by a national charity, Thera Trust. The employees provide care and support for people with learning disabilities.
Even though TEM does not recognise Unison, and we want to change that, we have an active steward in the workplace.
This strike is a sign of how strong the mood is to fight the introduction of a new contract with its draconian attacks on terms and conditions.
It would mean pay cuts for TUPEd [transferred ex NHS] staff to the £7.59 an hour that Thera contracted support workers receive.
Some of our members face losing over £300 a month. This raises the prospect of future pay cuts for support workers.
Thera wants a workforce at its beck and call, who can be sent to any site in the East Midlands in their own time and at their own expense.
The company's contract will inevitably lead to a loss of its skilled workforce. Members want to defend the quality of care and want proper consultation with the union.
Joe Warner, TEM managing director, resigned recently, further increasing workers' morale.
The company is trying to pressurise managers to find out who is in the union. It is trying to get employees not on the rota to work during the strike and we have heard a rumour that they are asking people from outside Derbyshire to come in.
We have organised well-attended members' meetings and kept in regular and frequent contact with members by newsletters, text, email and by letter.
We have organised two protests in Derby and raised the issue in the local paper and on Radio Derby.
We are working with other Unison branches, officials and members in the East Midlands such as Nottinghamshire County Unison and with Unison members and officials in Thera North (where Unison is recognised) and Thera East Anglia.
A serious lead by Unison's national leadership, coordinating action around all the issues that are affecting our members and our health and other public services, would gain a great response in Unison.
In The Socialist 17 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news