UP to six hundred Care UK workers and their supporters got fantastic support as they marched round Doncaster on Saturday afternoon.
The workers have been striking against huge attacks on their pay and conditions which the privateer, a subsidiary of private equity group Bridgepoint Capital, is trying impose.
There was a rally in the Civic Square with speeches from strikers and other trade unionists before the march set off.
Jim Bell, Unison regional organiser, introduced the speakers. He said, ‘The eyes of the trade union movement are on this dispute being waged by our brave members against the profit-hungry vultures of Care UK. We don’t beg for support from the wider trade union movement; we demand it.’
Care UK striker and Unison member Roger Hutt told the rally: ‘We’ve been all over the country and had fantastic support. We’ve had a visit from Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, who told us that we have the full support of Unison to win this dispute.
‘We will be deciding tomorrow (Sunday) on our next moves, before we return to work on Monday. But there’s one thing I can tell you, we will be continuing this dispute,’ he said to an enormous cheer. We will win this for our careers and for the people we care for. Solidarity and never surrender.’
Unison shop steward and striker, Mags Dobson, said: ‘We care for some of the most vulnerable people in society. We are their voice. Also we are fighting for our beloved NHS. We are the Care UK strikers, fighting for the whole working class. No to cuts! No to privatisation! Save our NHS!’
Other speakers brought support from UCATT, Unite, the NUT, Unison branches and the Ritzy Cinema strikers from Brixton in London.
After the hugely successful march round the town, which received cheers from the busy shopping centre, a couple of the strikers were interviewed by News Line.
Unison member Chris Squires said: ‘We are going to decide to strike again until we get it sorted.
‘We’ve been everywhere and had tremendous support from everybody. Even when we’ve been on main roads, we’ve had people shouting, “Carry on, we support you.” We’ve got to carry on.
‘People aren’t aware of what’s happening to the NHS. It’s being privatised rapidly and we’re leading the fight to stop it. There should be a general strike, everybody out together. That’s the way to beat Care UK and that’s the way to beat the government.’
Jane Paterson said: ‘Our strike has been good. We’re seeing action at last. Care UK is coming in and trying to make us all sign a new contract which could see our pay coming down to £7 an hour.
‘They’ve cut training and this new contract would cut our terms and conditions, cutting holiday pay, sick pay, and unsocial hours payment. We could be working Christmas Day for £7 an hour.
‘Through the strike we have become so strong. We are not just doing it for ourselves, we are doing it for everybody. That’s what it has become now.’