UNISON members in Doncaster are taking a second week of strike action as their employer, Care UK, tries to slash their pay, terms and conditions.
The NHS has run supported living services in the area for many years for the council. But last year, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council handed the contract to Care UK.
Late in the year, the company announced that it wished to change the terms and conditions of employees who had transferred with the contract. In some cases, the planned changes would see staff losing half of their take-home pay.
Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary John Cafferty said: “It is clear that the employer intends to de-skill and dumb down the skill base enjoyed by the current staff, and replace them with minimum-wage carers, thereby reducing the quality of the service provided.”
Mr Cafferty cited evidence obtained from a local job centre where a vacancy for a care worker was being advertised at £6.73 an hour for a 40-hour week, “with no enhancements for evening or weekend working or for bank or public holiday working, and also no pension provision.”
UNISON has tried to negotiate with the company, which refuses to change its position. Last week, Care UK agreed to meet under the auspices of ACAS, but would only offer to extend protection by two months. Talks have broken down.
At the same time, the company has been approaching members who are taking part in industrial action and trying to persuade them to sign new contracts, telling them that, if any improvements are agreed, the company will honour them.
Mr Cafferty said that this had “incensed our members”.
The 150 members have already taken seven days of strike action, after a ballot produced a 90% ‘yes’ vote. They have also been working to contract, have withdrawn goodwill and the use of personal cars for work.
A second seven-day strike began on Wednesday.
UNISON head of health Christina McAnea made it clear that this is “a dispute we’re totally supporting,”and she and the service group executive have already sent members their support.
The Doncaster, District and Bassetlaw health branch has launched an appeal to help members who are taking action.
Please make donations payable to Doncaster, District and Bassetlaw Health Branch 20511, and send them to the UNISON Office, Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster DN4 5GJ.