Care UK strikers celebrate victory

The longest running social care strike in the history of the NHS has formally ended after 90 days. 

UNISON members employed by Care UK in Doncaster have voted to accept the concessions won from the employer.

The dispute turned from a local dispute about pay and terms and conditions of employment of workers transferred from the NHS to a private employer, to one  that has shone a national and international spotlight on the role of international finance and private social care provision.

The dispute has placed this issue at the top of the political agenda in the run up to the next general election.

UNISON regional organiser Jim Bell said: “The magnificent action of our members has produced significant improvements from the employer’s original position. 

“We have been able, by our action, to win 12 months pay protection, tax free; we have restored the principle of premium rates for unsocial hours and we have won a 2% or consumer price index (CPI) pay award – whichever is the greater – for the next three years, as well as a £500 unconsolidated payment this year.

“Our action will give confidence to all workers faced with an uncompromising management.”

Mr Bell also paid tribute to the commitment of the strikers, the shop stewards’ committee and the strike committee, who travelled the length and breadth of the country raising the profile of this dispute.

And he thanked the individuals and organisations that have supported the Doncaster strikers throughout this difficult period.

UNISON head of health in Yorkshire and Humberside Tony Pearson said: “This has been a very long and tough fight and it has taken a toll on everyone involved.

“But their courage in fighting for justice and fairness for themselves and the vulnerable people they devote their lives to caring for has been inspirational.

“Support from other trade unions and members of the public has been tremendous. Once people realised what we were fighting for, they were almost universally supportive.

“This issue is now firmly in the public eye. What our members in Doncaster have done has raised awareness of the pay and conditions of care workers in privatised companies throughout the country. 

“It has changed the terms of the debate about how this country treats its carers and those they care for. 

“I feel sure their action has marked an historic turning point in the way private firms and Tory politicians have treated some of the most caring members of society. We should all be grateful to them.”