The Socialist 14 May 2014 |
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Care UK strike: NHS workers v NHS privatisation
Care UK strikers and supporters protest in Yorkshire, Easter 2014 (Click to enlarge)
Doncaster managers have called the Care UK strikers "The Angry Mob". The Angry Mob have been on tour this week taking their fight against privatisation and pay cuts all over the country.
Care UK workers are angry that the Supported Living Service for Adults with Learning Difficulties was privatised out of the NHS last year. They are angry that privateers Care UK tore up the TUPE transfer agreement and are slashing pay by an average of 35%.
They are so angry that they are striking back.
Around 90 Unison members are now into the second week of a fortnight's strike following on from 20 earlier days of industrial action. In the last week strikers have protested at Care UK offices in Sheffield and Leeds. Over 60 strikers took a day trip to the company headquarters down in Essex (report by Gina Beaumont below).
And another coachful will be visiting the HQ of Bridgepoint, the finance equity company that owns Care UK.
On strike day 29, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis is joining the picket line in Doncaster. This should signal the start of the union going national and declaring war on Care UK.
Last week, the Doncaster District Unison health branch unanimously passed a motion to Unison's Industrial Action Committee calling for the union to go on the offensive against Care UK by organising against them wherever they operate and have contracts (see below).
The Angry Mob on tour...
Care UK strikes take their campaign to Parliament, May 2014 (Click to enlarge)
Care UK striker Gina Beaumont writes:
A coach full of Care UK (CUK)` strikers set off at 5am. Everyone was in high spirits, chanting and singing, I am one of those strikers and have worked in the NHS for over 29 years feeling proud and determined to stand up with my comrades against the privatisation of the NHS.
We hit Colchester at 9.20am. Once at CUK headquarters we picked up our Unison flags and placards stating 'Save Our NHS' and 'CUK No To Cuts'. We started chanting outside the main office door.
Jim Bell, the Unison regional rep, then asked Julie Nightingale, senior HR change manager, to come outside and see all the CUK strikers. She emerged from the foyer.
Jim Bell asked her if the strikers, some of whom are disabled, could use their toilet facilities. She said 'no', it was only for CUK staff. We said we are CUK staff, we work for you!
Fortunately a fitness club opposite allowed us to use their facilities. We were grateful for this and did a small collection for them.
We continued to demonstrate and chant, marching around the building. In the early afternoon Julie Nightingale agreed to meet Jim Bell and two strikers. Three police cars arrived. They said we could not deny access to the CUK car park. We said OK and continued to demonstrate.
Jim Bell emerged from the office with the two CUK strikers Claire Smith and Roger Hutt. Jim said nothing new had been brought to the table but we could take industrial action and start legal proceedings, the paragraph in the contract was misleading. We believe a new contract should be drafted to clarify this.
It was a great day for us all. We boarded our coach mid afternoon with the police still there. Everyone was on a high because now we are spreading our cause nationally and standing up for what's right.
Solidarity! Care UK Strikers Fight Back !
Motion proposed by Socialist Party member Steve Williams:
"This branch recognises that the Doncaster Care UK workers' strike is probably the most important industrial dispute involving Unison members currently taking place.
Its successful outcome is vital to our members and has widespread implications throughout the NHS, the care sector and local government, in turning back the tide of pay cuts and privatisation.
This branch welcomes the support given to this dispute by the union nationally at the NEC and at the Health Service Group conference.
This branch now requests that the National Industrial Action Committee, as a matter of urgency, considers the following:
- Call upon all regions to organise speaking tours by the strikers of Unison branches and the wider trade union movement
- Promote coordinated Unison organised protests at Care UK offices around the country on a regular/weekly basis
- Requests that the union's organisers be deployed into all areas where Care UK operate or have contracts to recruit Care UK workers into Unison
- Organise a national demonstration mobilising Unison members from around the country in Doncaster on a Saturday coinciding with a period of Doncaster Care UK strike action
- As a leverage tactic, organise (a) co-ordinated day(s) of action against Bridgepoint owned companies such as Pret a Manger and Fat Face. Bridgepoint are the private equity company that owns Care UK and several other companies"
- Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org and donations/cheques made out to: "Doncaster, District & Bassetlaw Health Branch" and sent to: Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster, DN4 5GJ.