Socialist Worker

Home care workers put pressure on councillors in Birmingham

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2638

Birmingham care workers campaigning earlier this month

Birmingham care workers campaigning earlier this month (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Birmingham home carers are striking back against a Labour council that refuses to back off from attacks on workers.

Unison union members struck for 48 hours last week and were set to walk out again on Friday and Saturday this week.

It comes at a crucial point in the dispute.

Around 270 home careers have been fighting for almost two years against waves of attack from Birmingham City Council.

The predominately women workforce has been taking to the streets and campaigning on the wards of cabinet members.

Workers plan mass leafletting sessions every Saturday until 23 February.

They are set to visit the wards of council leader Ian Ward, deputy leader Brigid Jones, and cabinet member for health and social care Paulette Hamilton.

The Labour Group voted narrowly last week to proceed with planned cuts to the home enablement team.

The council cabinet was set to vote on Wednesday of this week on whether to scrap the service entirely or force workers onto part time hours.

The home carers also face attacks to their mileage payments and unsocial hours pay.

Responsible

Labour councillor Lisa Trickett—the councillor responsible for running the bins service during a strike in 2017—spoke to home care workers outside the vote last week.

Trickett said she was one of a group of councillors who had “voted very clearly against your pay, your conditions being cut because of the failure of management”.

“We are absolutely sick to death of seeing women bearing the brunt of austerity.

“And to be part of a Labour council that’s actually brought forward policy that put your livelihoods at risk, your families at risk is unacceptable,” she said.

The fallout from the bins dispute continues to rumble on. Workers are on a work to rule and overtime ban over the council’s treatment of workers following a strike in 2017.

Their Unite union is accusing the council of making “outrageous and immoral payments” to GMB members, who didn’t walk out. But the council cabinet voted to seek an injunction to stop industrial action.

Unity between these workers and anyone else wanting to resist austerity will be critical to winning.

It’s a welcome step that a homecare solidarity meeting has been organised with speakers including Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.

Strikers were set to vote on further action this Friday.

More pressure will be needed to finish off the threat of cuts for good.

Rally—Solidarity with the Birmingham homecare workers, Tue 29 Jan, 6.30pm, Birmingham and Midlands Institute, B3 3BS

Ballot at Alternative Futures Group

Unison union members at the Alternative Futures Group are balloting for strikes after bosses announced plans to slash their pay on overnight shifts.

They work in the homes of vulnerable adults and are paid a flat rate, then extra for every time they wake up during the night.

Bosses claim they can only afford to pay the flat rate of £30 to £40. These changes could axe up to £2,000 from workers’ annual wages.

The ballot finishes on 1 February.

 


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