Rebogged from Kate Belgrave
Update September 1: More careworkers to take strike action – workers at the Your Choice Barnet company on September 8 and 9:
Unison careworkers who work for the outsourced Your Choice Barnet company will take strike action on September 8 and 9 with another four days of action to follow.
Your Choice Barnet careworkers are fighting a harsh 9.5% pay cut imposed by private sector management. The Barnet Your Choice careworkers provide services to people with learning difficulties. Those services were transferred into a local authority trading company by Barnet council in 2012.
Last year, Alan White and I wrote a detailed story for the New Statesman about that failed Barnet privatisation of services for people learning difficulties.
Your Choice Barnet was originally set up by the council as part of the so-called Barnet Group – a trading company which would “provide” housing and services for adults with disabilities. The council had the wild, and entirely unsubstantiated, idea that the company could make a profit and that people with learning difficulties would pay to come from all over London to use this Barnet service.
John Sullivan, the father of Susan Sullivan, a woman with Down’s Syndrome who relied on Barnet services for people with learning difficulties, told us that the name Your Choice was very ironic indeed:
“There was no consultation. We expected letters and so forth: in fact we never got a single phone call to tell us what was going on… The first meeting for residents was a disaster. It was clear there was no structure – Susan would be dragged around a series of shops and garden centres [for something to do]. She needs two things – continuity, and her friends: the people she’s been friends with since they were kids.”
John described the company’s claims that it could make a profit as “mental masturbation.” He was absolutely right. The promised profits never materialised. Instead – true to private sector form – Your Choice Barnet presented staff with plans to slash their wages last year. Your Choice Barnet said the wages cuts were necessary to keep the company competitive.
The Doncaster careworkers below are hearing the same thing from Care UK, their private sector employer. The Fremantle careworkers, another group of Barnet careworkers who I wrote about in detail here, were told the same thing. They lost their weekend enhancement pay – the extra money that made carework possible to live on as a job – and had their sick leave reduced to the statutory minimum.
This is why carework is in such dire straits. Services are outsourced to the private sector, which sets about grabbing cash by slashing careworkers’ wages to amounts that are too small to live on. We live in an era where already-low-paid workers and people with learning difficulties are considered acceptable collateral in that cash grab.