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Posted on 31 August 2013 at 12:16 GMT

Future Directions care workers on strike, August 2013, photo by Hugh Caffrey

Future Directions care workers on strike, August 2013, photo by Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Carers at Future Directions continue their fight

Hugh Caffrey, Socialist Party (North West)

Over 150 care workers on strike at Future Directions in Rochdale marched through the town centre on Thursday to mark their 19th day of strike action.

The care workers are suffering pay cuts of 500 a month, while their terms and conditions of employment are being ripped up.

Over 100 tribunal cases have been submitted by their union, Unison. Strikers are determined to defeat "No Future" Directions and force Rochdale's Labour-run council to step in.

This private company is 100%-owned by Calderstones NHS trust, and was given the contract by the council to provide home-based care to disabled adults.

A new scandal has just broken in Rochdale about abuse of those in Calderstone's care. Unison is demanding that public services must be taken back in-house, away from the profit-driven motives of those grabbing privatised contracts.

Future Directions is applying for contracts with other local authorities in the North West, including Bolton, Salford and a number of others. The Unison regional officer said that Unison is urging its branches to lobby councils to tell them not to award any contract to Future Directions.

Addressing the strike rally, lead Unison rep John Morrison said:

You are here today to show your disgust at what Rochdale council and Future Directions are doing to you.

Future Directions in the last week [during the latest five-day strike] have put supposed 'trained staff' in your services.

Things we are hearing from these supposed 'trained staff' are absolutely disgusting. We're telling you today, 'report, report, report'. Show Rochdale council that this company isn't worth the reports in the paper, isn't worth the cuts you're taking in your wages, because this company is a joke!

Future Directions strike, Rochdale (Unison rep John Morrison with megaphone), photo by Hugh Caffrey

Future Directions strike, Rochdale (Unison rep John Morrison with megaphone), photo by Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

I've been at every single meeting that this supposed 'board of directors' have had - and we come out of every one of these meetings with the same words on our lips: 'These people are a joke'.

They say that they're experts, but you're the experts. It's your service that you provide, you've got the skills, not the other way around. You are worth more than 8 an hour!

At our last meeting with Future Directions they told us they see this contract having another two years. You already know what the council is saying about further cuts to funding for supported living in Rochdale. Believe me when I tell you that in three years time they will come after your terms and conditions again.

This is why we have to fight, we have to continue to be here every time the union says let's strike. We need to get that message to our colleagues on other contracts as well - it doesn't matter what contract they're on, pretty soon they'll be suffering what you're suffering as well.

We also need to get a message to Rochdale council saying 'The people of Rochdale are worth more than this!' The public and the people you and I look after day after day know how much they need us.

We know that too. This council continues to cut and cut and cut. We've just heard a report saying that a private company starved citizens of Rochdale to death.

Is this what Rochdale wants for the most vulnerable in this town? We say NO! And I say to you, keep fighting, keep strong, tell your colleagues to get out here because this is what will make a difference.

Unison is urging union branches to send messages of support, send donations to the strike fund, and invite a striker to address their meeting.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 31 August 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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