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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 March 2007

Carmarthenshire

Stop council's sell-off plans

THREE UNIONS, UNISON, GMB and T&G are currently campaigning against Carmarthenshire county council's plans to privatise the in-house home carer's service. There is ample evidence that the local authority is downsizing and downgrading the service to prepare for further privatisation.

Mark Evans, Carmarthen county UNISON assistant branch secretary - personal capacity

In a relatively short time the number of home carers employed has dropped from about 530 to approximately 390. Management's intentions are crystal clear to home carers, their unions and service users. Staff are moved around and their rotas changed at the drop of a hat to try to demoralise staff and to create a demand for private companies.

Three demonstrations have been called in Ammanford, Llanelli and Carmarthen to oppose the local authority's plans. Home carers have been campaigning on the streets of ex-mining town Ammanford - building for the demonstration on Friday 30 March (meeting Ammanford Town Hall at 12.30pm).

Marilyn Williams and Jean Williams (employed as home carers for 26 years and 23 years respectively) told me they were both happy with the response in Ammanford and neither could recall anyone voicing support for privatisation. Both hoped for a good turnout for the demo.

They told me they opposed privatisation both because their jobs were at risk and because they believed that private companies would provide an inferior service for vulnerable service users. Staff working for private companies will tend to be less well-trained; to be paid less and have less experience.

Service users will lose continuity of care. As profit drives private companies, staff will have less time to spend with service users. Both Jean and Marilyn are concerned about infection control. They had seen staff working for private companies, turning up at service users' homes without protective clothing such as gloves. When they had gloves, staff often did not know about hygiene procedures.

Jean and Marilyn thought the public opposed the local authority's plans. However, both thought that public opinion would not stop the council, who are being encouraged by the New Labour-led Welsh Assembly to outsource and privatise services. They, like many home carers, had reluctantly come to the conclusion that if the council was to be stopped then a ballot for industrial action would be necessary.

Full-time officers for both UNISON and the GMB say we could lose public sympathy if industrial action is taken. Both Jean and Marilyn said that service users will understand and support home carers if they are forced to take industrial action by the employer's intransigence.

Three meetings have been convened to discuss the way forward. Many home carers will demand that they be balloted on taking industrial action. The demonstrations should be the start not the end of the campaign.

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In The Socialist 29 March 2007:

Council workers fight pay cut scandal

The 'Single Status' scandal

Council unions reject 2% pay offer

Fighting cuts and privatisation

Stop council's sell-off plans


Socialist Party NHS campaign

PUSH for mass demo


What we think

A simple conclusion from a 'simplification' budget


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tenants defeat housing sell-off

Universities fail to accept state school pupils

Suffolk: Save our schools

London Olympics: Big business bonanza - and we pay

Fast News


Socialist Party election campaign

For the millions, not the millionaires


Socialist Party feature

Hands off our postal service!

Edinburgh postal workers fight back

Workers' fightback to defend postal services


Northern Ireland agreement

Will the new agreement last?

We Won't Pay anti-water charges demo 31 March


International socialist news and analysis

Italy: What future for Prc?

Turkish state attacks Kurdish protestors


Socialist Party workplace news

Airbus walkout - joint action needed across Europe

Reject regional pay

Determined campaigners win reprieve

Manchester Unity Stewards and activists group

Hants library workers fight cuts

Sacked electricians win tribunal ruling

Ealing workers fight pay cuts


 

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