200 careworkers at the Fremantle Trust, which holds the contracts for care homes in Barnet, North London, took their fourth day of strike action on Thursday 20 September as part of an ongoing fight against drastic cuts in their pay and conditions.
Protesting outside the company HQ, workers held up signs spelling out the words “Dismantle Fremantle” and “We will not be silenced”.
The dispute started in April when the bosses announced that there would be a new regime of longer hours, slashed annual leave and sick pay, along with pay cuts of up to 30%. The Barnet Unison website (www.barnetunison.blogspot.com) gives the example of one worker who as a Barnet Council employee used to earn £6,300 a year before tax for working 26 weekends and 8 bank holidays, but under Fremantle will now receive just £4,500. When privatisation was introduced terms and conditions were “protected” — those guarantees have now proven to be hollow.
Despite the victimisation of Unison steward Andrew Rogers and Fremantle’s successful bid to have the Labourstart solidarity website taken down, the campaign is still going strong, and workers are hoping to link up with other public sector employees with the upcoming Unison Local Government strike ballot. Labourstart has sidestepped the bosses’ manoeuvre by setting up a new address (www.wewillnotbesilenced.org), which, along with the Barnet Unison blog, has up-to-date news on the dispute.