Socialist Worker

Social care will collapse unless our unions fight back against the Tories' cuts

As cuts create a massice social care crisis, care workers told Raymie Kiernan the Unison union election is chance to build resistance

Issue No. 2550

Theresa Rollinson fighting private equity firm Bridgepoint in 2014

Theresa Rollinson fighting private equity firm Bridgepoint in 2014 (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Some 928 people left their social care job every day in 2015-16, new figures show. Around one in every 20 care roles is vacant—a shortage of 84,320.

The hours are long, pay is poor and the physical and mental stress can be unbearable.

Doncaster care worker Roger Hutt says they need a fighting union to combat the increasingly dire state of social care.

The Unison union rep is a candidate for the union’s national executive elections, part of the Unison Action Broad Left. He told Socialist Worker, “Care workers are not valued. I love my job but they are wanting more for less.”

One in three care workers in England are on a zero hours contract. Average pay is just £7.69 an hour and over 200,000 are paid less than the minimum wage.

Privatisation is to blame. In the last 20 years care services have been handed to private firms. Two-thirds of workers say the quality of adult care has dropped as a result.

Doncaster care worker Theresa Rollinson and Roger know the impact of privatisation.

They were transferred from the NHS in 2013 when Labour-run Doncaster Council privatised the supported living service. Private equity-backed firm Care UK attacked their conditions, slashed pay and created a two-tier workforce.

Resisted

Workers resisted with 90 days of strikes over eight months. But the deal that ended the dispute was a bitter pill to swallow after months of unfulfilled promises of national backing from their union.

 
'We need to take fight to the Tories', leading Unison union health worker speaks out
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Theresa said workers are fighting their employer again, although it is no longer Care UK.

“In 2015 they sold us off to Lifeways but we’re run under the brand of ‘Living Ambitions’,” Theresa said. Workers are angry at changes to when they are paid.

Theresa said, “We’ve just waited 47 days since our last pay. A lot of people have joined the union because of this. My contract says I’m paid monthly but I didn’t get paid in March except for enhancements.”

This is the reality of faceless investment funds. It’s why these private vultures should not be allowed anywhere near our care services.

Now the combination of profit, austerity and an ageing population has created the perfect storm. The main unions for care workers—while highlighting the problems—have not done enough to resist.

Unison members should use their vote to elect a fighting leadership that will take on privatisation.

Roger is determined to be a voice for resistance. He said, “We’re going to lose the NHS unless we fight for it—our union has a massive role to play in that. I want to see us fight.

“They’re chipping away at everything with the cuts and the

1 percent pay freeze. We’ve got to challenge them. Enough is enough.”

Theresa added, “Roger’s on the shop floor and knows what needs addressing. He’s a grassroots fighter—I know he’ll speak up for me.”

Workers spoke in a personal capacity

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