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Posted on 8 April 2014 at 17:42 GMT

Strikers rally outside Care UK office on Sunday 6 April, photo by A Tice

Strikers rally outside Care UK office on Sunday 6 April, photo by A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Doncaster Care UK strike: national union support needed

Alistair Tice

Doncaster Care UK workers took a further two days of strike action on 6-7 April. This follows two seven-day strikes as around 100 care workers, members of Unison, fight back against privatisation of the NHS and cuts in pay.

The strike remains solid, with at least 50 on the picket line each day. The determination of the strikers was illustrated on Monday afternoon when 50 waited for two hours in the pouring rain for TV cameras that didn't arrive. They were supposed to be filming the burning of more copies of contracts on a deadline day that the company has now extended for a third time!

This shows that most workers have not signed up to the buy-out (14 months pay compensation in a lump sum to give up NHS terms and conditions and all legal rights). The company hopes that by extending the deadline to 25 April it can pressure more staff when they are back at work into accepting. A few more have returned since the start of the strike action but a hardcore, around two-thirds of those voting for strike action three months ago, remain committed to industrial action.

Sunday's strike began with a well attended rally outside Care UK's Doncaster office where the greetings of solidarity and news of donations from trade unionists around the region gave added confidence and determination to the strikers. Afterwards, one striker said: "I'm beginning to think we can win this".

Adrian O'Malley, Unison branch secretary at the Mid Yorkshire hospitals, told how nine days of strike action by 400 admin and clerical workers plus the threat of a branch-wide strike against similar pay cuts had forced his trust management into big concessions.

National support

Vicky Perrin, a low-paid worker in Yorkshire and member of Unison's NEC, said that she would be pushing for the union nationally to increase support for the strike.

Money is pouring in that can sustain the strikers financially but more pressure needs to be put on the company, which is a major player in the increasingly privatised care sector. Unison should declare war on Care UK - the strikers are fighting for the future of the NHS and all care workers. Unison should also mobilise to support the Doncaster "FightBack" demo on Saturday 19th April and organise a mass protest outside Care UK's head office in Essex.

Dave Prentis, the leader of this 1.3 million member union must be seen on the picket line during the next four-day strike over Easter. Such an escalation would signal the start of a serious campaign to defend the NHS against cuts and privatisation.

Send messages of support to admin@unison-dab.org.uk

Donations/cheques made out to "Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch" to: Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster, DN4 5GJ.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 8 April 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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