Care UK workers to rally in Doncaster as latest strike begins

Director of Care UK's learning disability service, Chris Hindle.
Director of Care UK's learning disability service, Chris Hindle.

UNISON members working for Care UK in Doncaster will hold a strike rally tomorrow, Friday April 18, from 12.30pm at the Doncaster Trades Club in the Frenchgate centre.

Around 150 employees are starting a further four day strike, running until April 21 over proposed changes to pay and conditions, this follows two earlier seven day strikes in March and a two-day strike in April.

Support for the action has come from other trade unions and from the families of vulnerable people who depend on them for their care needs.

UNISON regional organiser Jim Bell said: “At tomorrow’s rally we will ask the members what form and for how long any future action should take.

“Our members are being forced to make great personal sacrifices but they feel they have no alternative if they are to protect their jobs and the service to vulnerable people which these pay cuts would effectively destroy.

“The way that Care UK is behaving in Doncaster is ringing alarm bells across the country. UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis has pledged continued support for our members in Doncaster and will be on the picket line in the near future.

“UNISON is also urging the Labour Party to give their full support for these workers because if Care UK get away with such savage pay cuts in Doncaster, no care service in the country will be safe.

“Meanwhile all the Doncaster MPs – Ed Miliband, Rosie Winterton and Caroline Flint – have written to Care UK urging them to sit down with UNISON at the earliest opportunity to resolve the dispute.”

Care UK managers revealed today that they have agreed to return to talks with ACAS at a meeting on Sunday.

Care UK has already held 12 meetings with union representatives to explain the reduced budget available from the council for the service.

Care UK’s director for learning disability services Chris Hindle (pictured) said: “We have consistently made the point that there is no more money – the service is commissioned by the local authority and we are all aware that public sector funded services are facing a genuine struggle to meet a growing demand with tighter and tighter budgets. Whichever provider was chosen to deliver this service would have had to reduce costs in some way and I believe our proposal is the fairest way to ensure we can continue to deliver high quality support in Doncaster.”

Care UK has rejected the suggestion that any individual might see a 50 per cent reduction in their salary. Under its proposals, the basic pay of all employees within the service is being fully protected and all colleagues who transferred to Care UK will continue to be members of the valuable NHS final salary pension scheme and have future pay increments protected. Most importantly, there have been no job losses - no employee who transferred into the service has been made redundant.

Mr Bell added: “We have always said we are willing to talk to them if they have something new to bring to the table. We will see what they’ve got to say on Sunday.”