Doncaster care workers began a seven-day strike on Thursday of last week against cuts to evening and weekend wages by Care UK bosses. There have been more than 100 workers on the Unison union members’ picket line at the company’s offices.
They marched to the care commissioning offices on Friday of last week in protest at cuts to care services. Joy Davis has been a care worker for 34 years. She told Socialist Worker, “We only want to keep what we’ve got. We haven’t had a pay rise for five years.”
Striker Maureen Hobson added, “We are losing up to 50 percent of our wages.”
Theresa Rollinson has 24 years’ service. She said, “Care UK say they value front line staff but that’s not demonstrated by their actions. The strike is costing me dear but we have no choice.”
Care UK took over the contract to provide care to more than 130 people with learning disabilities last September.
Unison shop steward Kirstine Carbutt said, “I fundamentally believe that private companies should not run these services. They’re only interested in shareholders’ profits. The quality of care has gone down.”
One major Care UK shareholder is Bridgpoint, the firm that employs new top NHS adviser Stuart Rose.
Strikers held a noisy rally in the centre of Doncaster last Saturday chanting, “Low Pay No Way”. Passing cars tooted in support. The solidarity strikers have received has boosted their resolve to keep fighting.
One striker told Socialist Worker, “If we don’t fight for what’s rightfully ours we’ll lose everything. This was one of the toughest decisions. We’re in this job because we care—we’re carers. But being part of the strike is so uplifting. So many of us have never done this before.We’re getting to know each other, organising the strike.”
Unison regional organiser Jim Bell told Socialist Worker, “Care UK has held back on negotiations to test Unison’s determination. If necessary we will take further action to defend our members.”
Striker Irene Butterworth said, “If we don’t get an agreement we’ll carry on striking. We have to stand our ground or they will walk all over us.”
Make cheques payable to: Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch and send to: Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster, DN4 5GJ