Socialist Worker

Birmingham care strikers demand answers from Labour

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2623

Birmingham care workers are striking against a Labour-run council

Birmingham care workers are striking against a Labour-run council (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Birmingham care workers kicked off their latest five-day strike ths week by lobbying the Labour Party conference.

Over 270 Unison union members are fighting an onslaught of attacks from Birmingham City Council (BCC), which is Labour-run.

The council is trying to impose a redundancy programme alongside forcing the low-paid workers—who are mostly women—onto part time hours.

BCC says it needs to save money, but the attacks will mean many workers—who provide a vital social service—will be plunged into poverty.

Home worker Caron said, “I lost my partner two years ago so I’m the only one bringing in money to pay the bills.

“The thought of losing hours is stressing me out.”

The council’s plan to slash £2 million from the home enablement service will mean more care packages tendered out to the private sector.

But many working in the council-run service have decades of experience and qualifications, meaning the best-quality care is given to some of the most vulnerable in society.

Private care companies are run on a different model, with workers paid less, trained to a lower standard, and forced to visit more clients.

Sharon, a care worker, said the cuts were already biting. “I’ve had to cut down on socialising, and sometimes even food, because I don’t know what the future holds.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, “While local councils have undoubtedly been hit by government cuts, councillors have made the wrong decision here.”

Many care strikers are Labour voters. They are furious that a Labour council is threatening their jobs, and a service that provides for all the people of Birmingham.

Solid strikes over nine months have shown BCC bosses that a well organised workforce is prepared to take them on.

More action will be needed to finish off their destructive plans for good.

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Article information

Tue 25 Sep 2018, 14:40 BST
Issue No. 2623
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