No-one goes on strike lightly. Care workers certainly don’t. They know the benefit they bring, every hour of every day, to those they care for.
Yet in Birmingham, home care workers are striking this Saturday, because they’ve been pushed to breaking point. Government cuts to local authority budgets have led to Birmingham City Council slashing the home care/enablement budget by 40%.
This is on top of seven years of austerity – where the social care workforce has fallen from 7,000 to just 2,000 – a further, damaging, deep cut to care.
That’s why homecare workers balloted to strike, with 99% voting in favour on a ballot that more than exceeded the draconian limits imposed by the Trade Union Act. They’re taking action from 11.30am to 2pm on Saturday – in order to minimise the impact on service users whilst standing up for their rights.
Their demands are clear – no compulsory redundancies, a joint management and union working party going forward to develop the service and the withdrawal of a rota proposal that involves triple split shifts.
So far, thanks to the campaigning energy and dedication of UNISON home care members, the first two demands have been met, but the council are still holding out on that vital third change. These proposals mean workers will be expected to work 7-10am 12-2pm and then 4-10pm. The reality is many won’t be able to get home between shifts – making their jobs and lives unworkable. Home care workers work every day of the year – they deserve the home life that many of us might take for granted.
On Saturday, striking carers will be rallying at Victoria Square in Birmingham at noon. Our whole union stands with them in their fight for justice – and for a fair deal from their local council.