Workers strike for seven days and picket the Doncaster offices of Care UK in fight against huge pay cuts
The decision of over 150 workers at Care UK to take seven days of strike action after being handed devastating pay cuts is of massive importance in the battle to defend the NHS. The striking workers look after adults with learning difficulties. Care UK was given the contract by Doncaster Council last September. Care UK’s immediate decision to attack the wages and conditions of the workforce tells us all we need to know about why the Tories are out to privatise the NHS. It might not be a surprise to discover that Care UK is a massive donor to the Tories, but they take far more back in contracts than they donate.
It is important to note that the strikers are complaining about declining standards of care as well as shocking cuts to pay. Among those involved was senior support worker Claire Cowan, aged 45, who says:
“Twenty-six years I’ve been working for them. It’s awful. I’m set to take a £200 a month wage cut, that’s over £2,000 a year. Utility bills are going up, the cost of living is going up, we can’t afford this. It’s the users that will suffer.”
Service user Tim Jones, 44, is a paranoid schizophrenic and said he feared for many people who rely on the Care UK employees.
“Thirty years I’ve been a service user. It is essential to support those who are mentally unstable so they don’t become exploited, or start self-medicating. We need this care.”
The mood to fight the attacks is formidable however. The vote for strike action was overwhelming. The decision to go for seven days of strike action and to picket the Doncaster offices of Care UK is unprecedented. Not only is the strike an inspiration to others fighting the cuts, it is showing in the starkest terms what the recent implementation of £109 million cuts by Doncaster Council will mean for the most vulnerable people in the town. The strike by Care UK staff can lead to the fight against the cuts being given a fantastic boost.
Last week’s meeting of the Doncaster Peoples Assembly raised £500 for the strikers and the potential to take the fight out across Doncaster and indeed the country is huge. Collections for these courageous strikers are paramount to maintain the fighting spirit they show, and they will get a good response from workers desperate to see the Tories get a bloody nose. This is both a political and an economic strike that can get right to the heart of the Tories privatisation addiction, and they should target Doncaster Royal Infirmary on a weekly basis to connect with other carers and service users who are facing a cost of living crisis and watching care plans be replaced by budget plans.
John is a history teacher and UCU rep. He is an active member of the People's Assembly and writes regularly for Counterfire.
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