After 90 days of strikes care workers in Doncaster have voted to accept a new pay offer.
Care UK staff in the Unison union voted by 82 to 31 to end their dispute. The three-year deal gives a 2 percent pay rise from October this year and
2 percent or the CPI rate of inflation—whichever is greater—in 2015 and 2016. It also gives ex-NHS staff who were privatised last year a £500 lump sum.
Private health firm Care UK is “very pleased” with the result. Unison claims workers are celebrating but the care staff have a different view.
Theresa Rollinson was one of strikers. She told Socialist Worker, “I lost just over £400 a month and I’m going to get a little less than that a year. Why would I celebrate such a pathetic offer?”
Unison steward Roger Hutt told Socialist Worker, “I am sure people will continue to leave as a lot of us can’t survive on the severe reduction in our wages.”
The dispute began in February with over 150 staff striking. A series of escalating strikes showed they were willing to fight but their union nationally did not build on this.
National solidarity action could have made a difference to the outcome of the dispute. For a union with Unison’s resources this would not have been difficult.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis’s pledge to “make sure that you understand the solidarity of our union behind you” now seems rather hollow.
But the Care UK strikers inspired many trade unionists and campaigners. And they offered people a lead to fight privatisation in the NHS.
Roger said they were immensely proud of what they achieved. “Workers having their terms and conditions attacked can make a stand. They should be prepared to unionise and fight back.”