Socialist Worker

Doncaster Care UK strikers need national backing for their pay fight

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2423

Care UK strikers joined the anti-Ukip protest in Doncaster. They led the march through their town along with north London care workers from Your Choice Barnet

Care UK strikers joined the anti-Ukip protest in Doncaster last Saturday. They led the march through their town along with north London care workers from Your Choice Barnet (Pic: Doncaster Supported Living Unison Strike)


Doncaster Care UK workers launched a fresh three-week strike on Monday of this week. 

It was their 70th strike day in a dispute that has now entered its eighth month.

Their battle began as a fight after bosses imposed new contracts slashing hundreds of pounds a month from some workers’ pay.

They are now also fighting for pay increases and are demanding the Living Wage for all.

“We are raring to go,” striker Bridget Male told Socialist Worker. “We are still strong and going to continue what we’ve been doing.”

Private equity firm Bridgepoint controls Care UK, a private health company awarded the care service for adults with learning disabilities by Labour-run Doncaster Council. 

Care UK workers always said this was about fighting NHS privatisation. 

Unmoved

That’s why the lack of support from their local MP, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, has angered them. His recent party conference speech left them unmoved.

Striker Wendy Patterson told Socialist Worker, “It was full of some nice words but not much else. 

“I just thought, ‘Nice speech, Ed now let’s see your face on our picket line.’”

Labour opposes the Tory Health and Social Care Act but Miliband has never publicly supported Care UK strikers. Unison leader Dave Prentis should call for him to show solidarity. 

Unison could also organise a coordinated collection day across the union to boost the strike fund. 

It could throw its resources into a national demo in Doncaster. 

And, as a national union, it would not be difficult for Unison to build the biggest coordination of disputes of its members facing similar attacks. 

When Care UK and Your Choice Barnet workers brought their strikes together last month it showed this is possible. 

Outsourcing of public services is now rampant and working class people are paying the price—it requires a united, national response. 

Support the strikers by going for the sharks

Support the strikers by raising the issues of their dispute and the treatment received at the hands of private equity bosses. Bridgepoint owns a lot more than Care UK and is involved in different industries. 

But Bridgepoint uses 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.

Organise a protest outside some of their other subsidiaries such as high street shops Pret A Manger or Fat Face.

Care UK and Your Choice Barnet strikers have invited supporters to a “Social Care Crisis” debate in the House of Commons.

This is due to take place on Tuesday 21 October starting at 6.30pm. Make sure to arrive early to get through security checks.

Send donations, solidarity messages and requests for strikers to speak at meetings to admin@unison-dab.org.uk 
Make cheques payable to Unison Doncaster 20511. Send to Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster, DN4 5GJ

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