Socialist Worker

Birmingham care workers promised victory in dispute

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2655

Birmingham strikers on the march

Birmingham strikers on the march (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Striking home care workers are celebrating after Birmingham city council seems to have backed off from attacks on their jobs.

Some 280 workers at the home enablement service have been fighting for almost two years against a series of attacks from the Labour-led council.

The Unison union members have held a series of long running strikes against attempts to axe their jobs and slash their pay. It would have tipped many in the low paid workforce—who are predominately women—into poverty.

Paulette Hamilton, cabinet member for health and social care, said the cuts were “no longer required”. Hamilton is proposing a new “integrated community team” which would mean an end to the attacks.

Birmingham Unison said “Birmingham council has now withdrawn all their proposals regarding cuts in hours and shift changes.

“Congratulation to the workers and their supporters in a long and hard fought campaign."

Punishing

The council began its attacks in 2017, when they attempted to impose punishing split shift rotas that would have seen workers undertake three separate shifts in a day.

In July 2018, bosses then announced a fresh series of redundancies and cuts to wages.

Workers have waged a political campaign against the leadership of the council cabinet and mounted serious strike action—often for a week at a time.

Any victory is down to the organisation and courage of workers refusing to be crushed by council bosses.

 
'We're striking to save care' say Birmingham home care workers
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They have fought to defend their livelihoods and struggled to keep an important social service in public hands.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, welcomed the moves. “If the council really is withdrawing these proposals, then it’s a vindication for these incredible care workers.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for them. They’ve repeatedly taken strike action, not because they wanted to, but because they knew they had to.”

The council is set to discuss the details at a cabinet meeting on 22 May. Strikers should be prepared to keep up the pressure until they get a guarantee that all the attacks have stopped.


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