A seven-day strike by social care support workers in Merseyside has brought their bosses to the negotiating table.
Over 600 Unison union members at Alternative Futures Group (AFG) are fighting to get the national minimum wage for all the hours they are at work.
AFG bosses want to cut their wages to a flat payment during a sleep-in night shifts. This represents a cut of thousands of pounds for many workers, who are already low paid.
The week’s action was rounded off by a rally in Liverpool city centre, where strikers sang “care at night, pay us right”.
Mark, a support worker from Macclesfield said that they were there “to stand up for ourselves”.
“Some of my friends and colleagues are having to use food banks, having to take out pay day loans to make ends meet,” he said.
“And a lot of people, although they love the job and want to stay on the job, are having to move on and do other things just to survive.”
AFG is a big player in the adult social care sector and tenders contracts from 15 councils.
It claims it can’t afford to maintain wages but 13 councils pay the firm more than the national minimum wage as part of the contract.
At the strike rally Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, “AFG get money from councils to provide care for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“The councils who contracted them have given the money to pay you, they’ve got that money, what are they doing with it?
“It’s going into the pay of the top directors, hundreds of thousands of pounds while our members are paid a pittance.”
AFG bosses have agreed to further talks—but workers should stay prepared for more action if negotiations fail.
And the scam of outsourcing vital social service to private firms has to be stopped. Liverpool Labour mayor
Joe Anderson said, “We are a city that has been bludgeoned by cuts from central government”.
He said that for the Labour Party to outsource to “companies who milk the profits of workers is absolutely wrong”.
Strikers are right to fight back against miserly bosses who trouser the profits from lucrative public service contracts while workers are left to starve.
It should lead into a wider fight against the entire rotten system of privatisation and outsourcing that strangles adult social care and lets the company bosses get rich.