Doncaster Carers’ Strike

NHS Outsourcing Means Wage Cuts to Protect Profits

Four months ago 50 low paid carers of vulnerable adults in Doncaster were forced to go on strike. Why? Because their low pay was made lower when Care UK took over an NHS contract. The strikers have of course asked for the earth – they want £7.65 an hour. Care UK claim that such wages are ‘simply unrealistic’.

This attack on public provision of social care is not a one-off. 20 years only 5% of publicly-funded social care that was given to people in their own homes was provided by the private sector. Today that 5% has grown to almost 90% with the public sector struggling to compete with the lower wages of the private sector and their race to the bottom. This shows that in some sectors private capital has already destroyed public provision.

On the other side of this coin sits Care UK with its tax arrangements in the Channel Islands and its sister company in Luxembourg; both great places to find low tax. In 2010 Care UK was taken over by a private equity firm, Bridgepoint Capital. Since then it has paid no corporation tax. Meanwhile, the former chairman of Care UK, John Nash, a venture capitalist has donated thousands to the Conservative party. He was made a Lord and now sponsors academies. No doubt he expects that the government will soon release academies from public control and allow a venture capitalist approach to education.

Support for the strikers has come from many quarters. Trade unionists and others have donated funds to help the strikers win their battle. But, sadly, the MP for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband, is unable to recognise the justice of the fight publicly and come out in support. No doubt this is all an embarrassment for him since it is on his doorstep. But, if he believes that workers are quietly going to accept anything thrown at them and then vote him in, he needs to think again.

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