Privatised health workers in Wigan and Leigh have launched a fresh round of strikes in their long-running fight for NHS rates of pay.
Unison union members at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity We Are With You—formerly Addaction—began five days of strikes last week.
They are demanding that charity bosses stick to their promise to give them the same rates of pay as workers employed directly by the NHS.
Paul, a Unison member, told Socialist Worker that they are “not giving up until we get the pay rise”. “We would have hoped that the dispute would have been resolved by now, but we are very determined,” he said.
“If we give up now everything we have done so far would have been in vain.
“And it will send a signal that if an employer wants to act in an authoritarian way, they can do so with impunity.”
Paul added that the recent re-brand from Addaction to We Are With You had not impressed workers.
“For an organisation that says it cannot afford to pay us more, a conservative estimate is that they spent £140,000 on this rebrand,” he said.
Workers were outsourced form the NHS to the charity, which manages the service on a contract to the Labour-run council.
They have lost out on a three-year pay deal in the NHS—leaving some around £2,000 worse off.
Charity bosses have made some slight movements, offering one-off payments in the hope that it would end the dispute. But Paul explained that these would be “non-consolidated sums”—meaning they wouldn’t count towards workers’ pensions.
“And after a year, we would be back to getting paid what we were in 2015,” he said.
Workers were set to hold a rally in Wigan with Unison general secretary Dave Prentis on Wednesday.
The Unison leadership must throw the full weight of the union behind the dispute. And trade unionists should build solidarity in their workplaces and union branches.