Socialist Worker

Birmingham care strikers need support

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2621

Birmingham home care strikers in London last month

Birmingham home care strikers in London last month (Pic: Support the Birmingham Homecare Workers/Facebook )


Home care workers in Birmingham are determined to win their battle to defend services, as their dispute should become a focus for the trade union movement.

Over 280 Unison union members were set to begin a fresh round of strikes on Wednesday of this week.

They plan to strike for five days, and for a further five days from 24 September.

The mostly women low-paid workers are fighting plans to dismantle the home enablement service.

This free, council-run service supports people in their own homes following discharge from hospital.

Independence

It allows people to maintain independence. But Labour-run Birmingham City Council (BCC) wants to slash 55 jobs and force the rest of the workforce on to part time hours.

Fighting back because we care - Birmingham home care workers speak out
Fighting back because we care - Birmingham home care workers speak out
  Read More

It’s then likely this public service would be sold off to the private sector.

Strikers are holding a rally on the fourth day of this week’s action. They hope trade unionists and campaigners will join them on the streets of Birmingham in solidarity.

The home carers work alone, so collective activity during the strike is crucial.

Mandy Buckley, senior shop steward, told Socialist Worker that the rally was “really important”.

“The members can see the support that we’re getting from other unions and other people,” she said.

“They can’t see how many of us are striking until we do pickets and protests—members don’t realise it’s near enough all of us on strike.”

The vicious cuts to home care are part of a wider programme of cuts from BCC.

And the latest strikes take place just as a new report has revealed that health visiting services in Birmingham are “in meltdown”.

A review from the Care Quality Commission shows that health visitors in the city have double the number of recommended caseloads.

Warning

It issued a warning notice to trust chief executive Richard Kirby that “significant improvements” must be made by next year.

Unite union regional officer Su Lowe warned, “We are into unsafe practice territory where serious issues, such as postnatal depression and domestic abuse, could be missed because of lack of resources.”

All trade unionists should build solidarity with the home care workers and finish off the council’s destructive plans.

Strike rally and protest—Sat 15 Sept, 12 noon, Victoria Sq, Birmingham B1 1BD. Send messages of support to caroline.johnson@birminghamunison.co.uk

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