Care UK’s owners, private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, received a visit to their London offices this morning by angry striking care workers from Doncaster.
Around 70 strikers in the Unison union and their supporters joined the noisy protest. The workers are on a strike tour of company offices during their 14-day strike, which ends this Sunday.
Striker Theresa Rollinson explained to Socialist Worker why they were there.
“Bridgepoint are in this purely for the money—they’re just fat cats living off the work of people like us,” she said.
Labour-run Doncaster council in South Yorkshire privatised the ex-NHS service caring for people with learning disabilities in autumn last year.
New contracts from Care UK cut workers’ pay by up to £7,000 a year by attacking pay enhancements for working evenings, weekends, bank holidays and night shifts.
But more than 90 workers have refused to sign the new contracts imposed last month.
South Yorkshire and Humberside Unison regional organiser for health Jim Bell spoke to Socialist Worker.
He said, “This is a testing ground both for us and our ability to organise and for the employer’s determination to smash terms and conditions. Everybody is watching this.
“We have to win this. If we don’t, the message will go out to all the other employers that Unison did their best but it wasn’t good enough. And we’re going to make damn sure that it is good enough.”
The strikers have always insisted the issue at the heart of their dispute is defending the NHS and the quality of care provided.
Theresa said, “We’re proud of what we’re standing up for. You should not mix the NHS with profit.”
As Bridgepoint employees peered out of windows at the protest below the strikers chanted, “Care UK, what a farce. Stick your contracts up your arse.”
They then marched their way through London’s west end to Whitehall to protest at Downing Street and deliver a petition calling for an end to NHS privatisation.
Chants of “Cameron, Out” rang out. Gesturing towards the gates of Downing Street striker Mags Dalton told Socialist Worker, “They’re the reason we’re in this mess, and working class people are suffering because of them.
“Our dispute has become about more than preserving the health service and other public services. We want decent wages, a living wage for people to live on, and to get rid of things like zero hours contracts.
Mags appealed for supporters to join their march in Doncaster this weekend. She said, “If you’re not doing it for yourself, do it for future generations. If Care UK wins it will open the door for every private company to do the same.”
If you are in the Yorkshire and Humberside area—join the march.
Send donations, solidarity messages and requests for strikers to speak at meetings to firstname.lastname@example.org
Make cheques payable to Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch and send to: Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster DN4 5GJ
Facebook: Doncaster Supported Living Unison Strike