Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/799/18167
Doncaster care workers vote for seven-day strike
A Doncaster Unison member
Care UK workers in Doncaster have voted by over 90% for serious action against attacks on pay and conditions.
The Unison members have decided the action they want to take is a seven-day strike, with continuous action short of a strike, including withdrawal of goodwill.
They are now waiting for national authorisation. In the consultative ballot 118 votes were cast and 113 voted to strike. This was out of 167 workers who were balloted.
In September 2013 the tender for Doncaster's learning disability supported-living service was sold to the cheapest bidder, the Tory bedfellows and personal friends of Conservative health ministers everywhere, Care UK.
The learning disability service, previously part of the NHS, was Doncaster's flagship service with integration, individuality and inclusion; enriching the lives of its service users and providing staff with a job they could be proud of and proper training.
Now, service users with complex mental health needs are suffering as staff they have known for years are leaving in their droves out of fear of pay cuts.
In December, Care UK unveiled its plans to make the service more 'financially viable'. This means no enhanced pay for unsociable hours worked - an average of a £500 a month pay cut in real terms. There are other cuts to terms and conditions.
This proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by Unison members and a ballot for strike action was issued, the ballot came back in favour of industrial action.
Care UK then came back with the concessions they were willing to make in order to avoid a strike.
A whopping £1 an hour extra for night shifts and £2 an hour for weekends and bank holidays. In real terms an estimated average pay cut of only £440 a month! No wonder the results of the second ballot are nine-tenths in favour of action.
In the meantime Care UK has attempted to bypass the unions by individually contacting employees and offering to buy them out of their contracts for a one-off taxable payment which will be the financial difference between working for the NHS and working for Care UK.
Employees have been given a deadline of 21 March to accept this offer.
The company has said that unless an agreement is reached between themselves and the unions, on 23 March all employees previously on NHS contracts will be sacked and offered re-employment on Care UK's terms and conditions.
In The Socialist 19 February 2014:
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