Dozens of Doncaster care workers began a seven-day strike yesterday – with a banner-waving, whistle-blowing protest outside the Heavens Walk headquarters of their bosses.
Care UK staff – Unison union members who look after adults with learning difficulties – are protesting against proposed pay cuts.
Among those involved was senior support worker Claire Cowan, aged 45, of Clay Lane, who said: “Twenty-six years I’ve been working for them. It’s awful, I’m set to take a £200 a month wage cut, that’s over £2,000 a year.
“Utility bills are going up, the cost of living is going up, we can’t afford this. It’s the users that will suffer.”
Michelle Smith, 51, added: “Cutting pay on any level cannot be justified. I’ve worked for these people since September, to them it’s a business and care comes secondary.”
Service user Tim Jones, 44, is a paranoid schizophrenic and said he feared for many people who rely on the Care UK employees.
“Thirty years I’ve been a service user. It is essential to support those who are mentally unstable so they don’t become exploited, or start self-medicating. We need this care.”
A care worker of 20 years, Kim Hing, 63, of Rossington, added: “There’s a lot of people with flats and mortgages that they just won’t be able to afford to pay, leaving them homeless.”
Tony Pearson, Unison’s regional head of health for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “I think it’s very sad that we’ve had to hold this protest.
“Care UK is a multi-million pound company slashing wages of people who provide essential care for the most vulnerable adults in society.”
One anonymous protester said: “Lots of service users today are waking up to strange faces.”
Care UK chiefs voiced disappointment that Unison refused to sit round the table with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
The offer to meet with ACAS without pre-conditions was rejected out of hand.