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Doncaster Care UK workers stepping up the action
"Sick of going to work to struggle and budget"
After another four days of action over Easter taking us to day 20, the Doncaster Care UK strike is not just solid but stronger than ever.
On Friday 18th April, the strikers' rally voted in a secret ballot to strike again, next time for two weeks in May.
Such has been the financial support flooding in that strike pay is being increased to £50 a day.
On Saturday 19th, 300-400 strikers and supporters marched through Doncaster to a great reception from local onlookers.
Solidarity speeches came from the bakers' union, RMT rail union, NUT teachers, expelled Hull Labour councillor Gill Kennett, Disabled People Against Cuts, South Yorkshire Freedom Riders, other Unison branches and health workers including three activists from Gwalia Social Care in Swansea who will soon be striking over the very same issues.
Care UK striker and shop steward Kirstine Carbutt finished the rally with an impassioned speech:
"Care UK blame the council. The council blame the government. Where does it end? A phrase comes to mind - shit rolls downhill, and doesn't it just! It's not the MPs at the top having to tighten their belts, it's not the shareholders of Care UK or its directors and management. No it's us on the shop floor. AGAIN, the lowest paid. Well I for one am sick of going to work to struggle and budget ... That's why we're striking back".
Labour refuses solidarity
Last week, a few of the strikers met with two of Doncaster's Labour MPs and a representative of Ed Miliband (Doncaster North MP). Nothing came out of the meeting apart from a letter from the MPs to Care UK asking them to "negotiate to end this long running dispute". At the resulting meeting with the arbitration service Acas on Sunday 20th, Care UK had nothing new to put on the table. One of the stewards attending said: "That's two hours on my life i'll never get back!" The May strike goes ahead.
So after 20 days of strike action against "a cost of living crisis" of 35% pay cuts and privatisation of the NHS, still not a single local Labour councillor or MP has publicly supported the strikers. That's why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has organised a protest lobby of Ed Miliband's surgery on Thursday 22nd April and on the same day TUSC supporters will protest outside Care UK offices around the country.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 21 April 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.