Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/805/18390
Doncaster strike: Fight Tory 'don't Care UK society'!
Doncaster striker Carole Hanson says: "We are all still solid, and passionately believe we are doing the right thing, even though we are all skint this month.
"However if we don't fight to win, being skint will be our future every month so that has made us more determined."
Like the lager advert says, Doncaster Care UK strike - probably the most important trade union dispute in the country right now.
On one side Care UK, a multi-million pound Tory-supporting private care company slashing workers' terms and conditions.
On the other, over 100 careworkers, privatised last year and now facing an average 35% pay cut, are fighting back.
These Unison members who have already taken two full weeks of action, voted by 95-1 to begin a further three-day strike on 6 April to be followed by four more days over the Easter weekend.
Working to just exist
Care UK have torn up the TUPE transfer agreement, reducing holidays and sick pay and scrapping unsociable hours enhancements.
Carole, a senior support worker, says: "The over £300 a month loss of pay for me means the difference between living or just existing.
"I resent the fact that Care UK say the cuts are necessary when we all know a chunk of it is for their profit pot. I am concerned how easy it was to privatise our service after being NHS for 68 years."
Janet Howle, support worker and Unison shop steward says: "To me this means earning the same wage now as I did eight years ago.
"This is why we are on strike. As private companies take over the NHS, wages and living standards will be eroded.The service provided will be affected.
"The NHS should not be treated as a commodity to make profits. We are in a caring profession because we want to give a good level of care."
This strike is a 'cause celebre'. Solidarity and support funds have been pouring in. Strike supporter Jason Fawley, whose wife is one of the strikers, went collecting funds in London: "A man riding past on his bike heard me say 'Care UK Doncaster'.
"After I explained what it was about he put £10 in the collection and wished us luck. A young lad even offered us his bus fare."
But the same support has not been forthcoming from Labour. Despite these pay cuts being a 'cost of living crisis' for every single careworker and their families, not a single Labour councillor or MP has visited the picket line, including Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband.
That's why Jason, striker Greg Beaumont, and two other branch stewards are standing as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates in Doncaster in the May council elections (see www.tusc.org.uk).
The three-day strike deliberately coincides with the company's extended deadline for signing up to the new contracts. Another deadline, another bonfire of contracts.
Support the strikers
Send messages of support to: email@example.com
Send donations/cheques, made out to 'Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch', to Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster DN4 5GJ
In The Socialist 1 April 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns