Rehab workers in Wigan and Leigh working for We Are With You (WAWY) began the second round of their ten-day strike for equal pay on Monday.
Unison union members were nonplussed when, earlier this year, the Addaction Trust changed its name in the middle of their year-long dispute.
“I don’t know who they think they’re with, but they’re not with us and we’re certainly not with them,” said one striker.
Another striker told Socialist Worker, ‘WAWY claims that it values its staff, but this isn’t reflected in the pay or their terms and conditions.
“We’re expected to manage caseloads of around
80 complex clients, with safeguarding issues and multiple physical and mental health needs.
“This leads to a high turnover of staff, who gain experience then move on to organisations who pay fairer wages. The remaining staff face high levels of stress, burn out and a sense of frustration.
“Even chief executives only stick around for a short time then move on.
“This seems to be the business model—drive down wages, rely on a high staff turnover and win contracts by undercutting existing services.
“What remains are services stripped right back and delivered by a demoralised workforce.”
WAWY is not satisfied with offering drug and alcohol rehab services. It also has its sights set on health, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services, and GP practices.
In an era of public service funding cuts, WAWY sees opportunities to grab more services.
Charity magazine Civil Society Media has calculated that Addaction’s change of name to WAWY cost around £140,000. This could have paid the strikers’ claim for several years.
A virtual rally at short notice last Friday saw support coming in nationally and included local MP Lisa Nandy.
This strike is not just about pay justice but also defending the NHS from groups that skim cash from the health service.
A win for the workers here would fortify other workers facing the same dilemma of whether over fight or roll over.
Strikers are delighted by the messages of support they have received and donations to their strike fund.