Strikers at Care UK in Doncaster ended a two-week strike on Monday of this week and overwhelmingly voted for more strikes at a mass meeting.
The Unison union members’ current dispute, demanding the living wage for new staff, takes their tally of strikes to 48 days.
New staff at Care UK earn just £7 an hour while others have seen their terms and conditions slashed since Labour-run Doncaster council privatised the service last autumn. The workers care for adults with learning disabilities.
“I’ve lost 25 percent of my basic pay,” striker Theresa Rollinson told Socialist Worker. “It’s really tight trying to survive on that.”
Some face losing their homes as new contracts slashed pay up to £7,000 a year. One striker has been made homeless as they can no longer afford to pay rent.
Anger at NHS privatisation has hardened the resolve of the workers to resist Care UK bosses. Donations continue to pour in as strikers tour workplaces and union branches to raise solidarity.
Unison rep Andy Squires told Socialist Worker, “Ultimately this is about stopping parasitic vultures like Care UK buying up parts of the health service at the expense of workers.”
Care UK’s majority shareholder is private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital. Private equity firms own controlling interests in companies providing 10 percent of services for learning disabled and 8 percent of residential care in England.
Bridgepoint use Care UK as a cash cow to repay the money it borrowed to buy its controlling stake.
The latest accounts show that while Care UK posted operating losses of £9 million it paid £90 million in interest payments.
Your Choice Barnet care workers plan fight back against attacks
Care workers at Your Choice Barnet (YCB) in north London have voted by 90 percent, on a 73 percent turnout, for strikes against pay cuts.
The decision follows failed talks that were the result of a previous threat to strike in June.
YCB bosses agreed then to back down temporarily and suspend a 9.5 percent pay cut pending further negotiation.
Instead of slashing workers’ wages by 9.5 percent bosses came back to the workers’ union, Unison, with an “offer” to only cut their wages by 8.3 percent.
Barnet Unison said talks revealed “scandalous charging arrangements foisted onto YCB”. These expose the turn towards looking at unit costs in care as a way to cut spending rather than provide block funding to care providers.
Unison has also questioned the company’s financial viability without making workers pay with further cuts.
They are demanding immediate talks with company and council bosses, otherwise Barnet Council should bring the workers back in-house.