Practical trade unionism was to the fore in Liverpool this morning, when UNISON’s national delegate conference declared its solidarity with members in Rochdale, taking industrial action against pay cuts and slashed terms and conditions.
Some 115 members are being forced to take industrial action by their employer Future Directions, a “community interest company” set up by the local NHS Foundation trust to provide community services.
When it bid for the contract, said Rochdale speaker Maureen Howard, the company knew that Rochdale council had been forced to cut its budget. So it turned on the carers looking after vulnerable adults, proposing wage cuts of up to £10,000, cutting sick pay and holidays and – when members voted to take industrial action – turning to the courts to get an injunction against a strike.
But, said Ms Howard, the members got organised and have now taken five days of legal strike action with more to come, including a rally on 29 June.
“These members will not give in to an employer who are showing contempt to them and their trade union,” declared Ms Howard.
These people care for the service and the wellbeing of service users, she added, “but they have the right to stand up for their pay and terms and conditions.”
Or, as Mick Killian from the Transport for Greater Manchester branch put it: “We will stand up for our members, but we will also stand up for public services.”
Delegates agreed and conference declared its solidarity with the Rochdale strikers, pledged full union backing and made an immediate donation of £5,000 to the strike fund.