Care UK workers take pay fight to London

MORE THAN 30 striking workers employed by Care UK in Doncaster took their pay dispute to London for the second time last Friday. The delegation represented some 70 Unison members, who are in the middle of a two-week strike.

They are demanding a “meaningful” pay rise for staff transferred from the NHS under TUPE regulations, and the living wage for all others.

Their intention on Friday was to meet Care UK’s parent company, Bridgepoint Capital, to push the company for a positive response to their claim.

But Yorkshire and Humberside Unison regional organiser Jim Bell said that when they arrived at Bridgepoint’s central London offices, the doors were locked against them.

“I think they were tipped off that we were coming,” he said. “But although Bridgepoint refused to see us, we’ve demonstrated to them that this dispute is not going away any time soon.”

The delegates also called on the Department of Health, where they presented a letter outlining their grievance. The pay claim is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute that started when a contract for the NHS service was handed to Care UK.

Staff have already taken 34 days of action earlier this year, over Care UK’s attack on their terms and conditions, notably enhancements — which meant for some a pay cut of 35 per cent.

Bell said that bringing the dispute to London was “a tremendous boost to morale” for everyone involved. “This is a solid group of workers. They love being together and they love taking action together. And they realise they’re not going to get anything without a struggle.”

Messages of support or donations should be sent to: Yvonne Butcher, branch secretary Doncaster District and Bassetlaw Health Branch, 20511 Unison Office Jenkinson House White Rose Way Doncaster DN4 5GJ

Meanwhile care workers in Barnet have voted to stake strike action after being offered a new pay deal that would see them accept an eight per cent fall in pay.

The Unison members voted 9:1 not to accept the “improved” offer from Your Choice Barnet (YCB) at a time when other workers up and down the country have rejected a one per cent pay rise.

Unison branch secretary John Burgess said: “If we are to avoid strike action we need urgent talks between Barnet Council and Your Choice Barnet. It is clear that the current payment mechanism and lack of referrals from the Council are severely hindering the financial viability of YCB.

“It beggars belief that the Task & Finish Group in November 2013 failed to spot the glaring financial crisis haunting YCB. To carry on ‘as is’ is not an option, either there is a threeway meeting in order to come to an arrangement whereby YCB has a real future or the council honours its promise to return the service in house.

“It is unacceptable that service users, parents/carer and our members should have to continue to bear the brunt of failed business case imposed on them by Barnet Council.”