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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 February 2007

Unique Care

Striking back at the privateers

AS PRIVATISATION'S ugly face reveals itself with cuts and brutal attacks on terms and conditions, workers at Unique Care in Huddersfield are showing that, in one striker's words: "We need not and will not take it lying down. Trying to force part-time contracts of 20 hours onto workers who are working 37-40 hours a week is a form of bullying"

Vicky Perrin spoke to Gloria Matheson, the UNISON steward who led the women care workers' walk-out on 8 January. "When they sacked Sonia (their manager) it was the final straw." With the strike in its fifth week the women are getting stronger and more determined.

Gloria explained how Unique had been making cuts, putting profit before the staff and clients' welfare such as understaffing busy shifts, refusing to pay staff's travel expenses to and from work and cutting holiday pay. "They spoke to us in a childish way. They thought we were little women who would take it but we are strong."

On Friday 2 February the strikers held a protest at Kirklees council offices to get publicity for their struggle and to put pressure on the council, who they are calling on to help reinstate them.

Two clients they work with joined the protest. Bert, aged 82 said: "I support them. It's diabolical how they have been treated." Geoffrey, who is 80. added: "I think they have been badly treated. They are overworked and underpaid."

This support is crucial to the strikers who found it extremely hard to walk away from the elderly people they have built caring and trusting relationships with. "We are more like their extended family," Gloria told me.

For all the women it is their first experience of a strike. The mood fluctuates on the daily picket line but the women are getting stronger every day. "Striking has pulled us all together and we're fighting as one now for what's right."

Disputes like this are a stark reminder that things haven't changed so much since the 19th century when women fought in struggles like the Matchgirls' Strike for fair and equal treatment against brutal profiteers. Except that now they have a union whose local leaders fight for them.

Send your messages of support, donations and requests for speakers to UNISON, 20 Queen St, Huddersfield. 01484 511826 or via Huddersfield Socialist Party: mike.jackie@tesco.net.

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In The Socialist 7 February 2007:

BLAIR MUST GO!

Sold to big business

Can the Left reclaim Labour?

Merseyside Campaign for a new workers' party

Website of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party


Civil servants' strike

Interview with Mark Serwotka: "This is just the beginning of the campaign"

Welsh strikers close down Assembly


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Anger at union leaders' timidity

Manchester nurses strike against health cuts


Environment

Change the system not the climate!

Bush's bio-fuel bull


Socialist Party news and analysis

Has Manchester struck it lucky?


Socialist Party campaigns

Camden council blames cuts on 'spending gap'

Don't privatise social housing!

Tenants pay when things go wrong

Coventry - a victory for determination


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Rising anger and discontent in Europe


International socialist news and analysis

Darfur - another failure of Western 'conflict resolution'

Sri Lanka: Keep up the protests


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

The writing on the Chinese wall


Workplace news

Stop the Valentine's Day pay massacre !

Striking back at the privateers

Corus deal threatens new cost-cutting

Cabin crew angry over BA deal

May Day greetings


 

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