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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2007

Bolton

Care workers on strike

Bolton Council is attempting to cut holiday and sick pay for carers by removing the right to claim for 'sleep-ins', an essential part of many carers' duties and wages. Workers went on strike on 1-2 October against these attacks.

Robert Mitchell, Bolton Socialist Party

This is an attack on the pay and conditions of an already underpaid group of workers. It is also part of an attempt by government and councils to undermine terms and conditions of work for carers on a national scale.

On the first day of industrial action over 100 care workers and supporters packed out the strike rally. It was addressed by Unison regional officer Paul Rhodes, Unison Bolton branch chairperson Florence Hill, Karen Reissman (a Manchester nurse suspended for speaking out against NHS cuts and privatisation) and Paul Holmes, (Unison national executive member).

All four speakers emphasised that the dispute is not just about the issue of 'sleep-ins' or premiums, but a defence of working terms and conditions which had been agreed and guaranteed on a national level.

John Rutherford, head of Bolton Council adult services department, has been off sick since the 75%-for-action result of the strike ballot, whilst care workers are having to struggle for the basic right to retain their normal rate of pay when off sick or on annual leave.

Speaking to the socialist, Florence told me: "The turn out today was absolutely brilliant, it just shows the strength of feeling amongst the people. It's been really impressive. So many people have stepped forward and helped to organise and rally support.

"This dispute is about national terms and conditions. Unison members have not taken the decision to strike lightly… This is part of the ongoing saga of employers attacking the most vulnerable group of staff. You can bet that senior management's perks will be the last to come under threat."

  • As we go to press, workers are discussing the next steps in the dispute. Send messages of support to Bolton Metro Unison, 27 Mawdsley Street, Bolton, BL1 1LN or ring 01204 338 901 for more info.
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