JOIN OUR RALLY: Sat 3rd SEPT, 12.30-2pm Meet at Greenway Centre, Southmead, BS10 5PY

Thursday, 26 April 2007

March for Home Care

Last Friday was a fabulous day. The sun shone on hundreds of Home Care workers as we marched brisky, peacefully, yet noisily through the inner city ward of Easton, Bristol. Songs and chants included: Vote vote vote for Feruk Choudhury, kick ol' Kiely out the door; if we had a super-gun we would shoot him up the bum and we wont deal with Kiely any more - out the door!

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC launched the march with some carefully chosen words of support and encouragement. Later, at the Rally in Easton Community Centre, our senior steward Allison Fitton read out messages of support from Care workers in America. Other speakers were Busharat Ali (Labour Candidiate for Lawrence Hill), Feruk Choudhury (Labour Candidate for Easton), Paulette North (Respect Candidate for Easton) and Paul Smith (prospective Labour MP for Bristol West). However, Stephanie Weston left many of us with tears in our eyes as she gave this speech:

"To my fellow Home Care Assistants of Bristol city council who are here and are so brave to stand up and be counted.

Every one of us carries enormous responsibilities, with pride.

We never know what we are going to come across when we start each shift. Anything could happen, and it’s down to us to sort out the crises and stay calm when others are frightened.

The people we care for are society’s hidden people. They are not customers; they are individuals who need our care. We are proud to help them to live in their own homes and support them in maintaining their dignity, pride, beliefs and independence.

If our service users are worried about anything
They talk to us
They trust us
They confide in us
And they do that because we are the friendly familiar face they see day after day and they feel secure in the fact we are part of the council and can be trusted.

People don’t trust the private sector because they know they are in it for profit. Homecare is a critically important service. We know that it should not be sold off at public action to the cheapest bidder. It is absolutely wrong that the most vulnerable members of our society should be paying the price for the council's finance problems.

If they want to cut costs then the council should start by saving the £800,000 per year that private agencies overcharge them.

Many of our service users have paid their taxes and national insurance all their lives. Most pay towards the cost of their care. And yet the council failed to consult them about the proposals to privatize a service which is a lifeline to many.

Perhaps it was an oversight
Perhaps they just didn’t care

Well we care!
The Councils plans are:
Ethically wrong
Socially wrong
Politically wrong

Shame on you Bristol City Council!

We are a voice for our service users and we will be heard. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with them, their families and the people of Bristol’s communities, who know the difference between right and wrong.

Councillor Keily has grabbed the headlines in today’s Evening Post offering us the chance to bid for running the Homecare business ourselves. He says it means we Home Care workers can all share in the profits.

Councillor Keily, we don’t want profits, we want decent jobs and high quality care. No one should make a profit out of care!

The Council should not underestimate our commitment to our service users. We are going to fight this privatization.

We have our service user’s support
We have massive public support
We have press support.

To my fellow Home Care workers I say:
For us to win this
Means we all must hold our heads up high
for what we do
for who we are
And how special our service is.
Don’t lose sight of it . . .

We are the women who do a job most people are not cut out to do, we are the women that most service users trust. We are the women who will not be silenced, bullied or appeased. We must Stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the future of Home Care
Is not as a private service but a public service where the care comes before the profit.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Care is not about profit - not for us, not for anyone!

As we prepare to demonstrate on our March for Home Care at 2pm today, liberal democrat councillor Mr Keily (in charge of Adult and Community Care) has grabbed the front page of the City's paper with an offer to the workers that we bid to run the Home Care service ourselves as social enterprise.

He has offered us this as an opportunity to run a democratic business where all workers can share in the profits. Doesn't he get it? NO ONE SHOULD MAKE A PROFIT FROM HOME CARE!

We will continue our campaign for a publicly-owned service which is accountable to the people of Bristol and delivers high-quality care.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

California's support for Keep Bristol Home Care

On behalf of the 200,000 California homecare workers represented by the United Long-Term Care Workers' Union and California United Homecare Workers, we say to our homecare brothers and sisters in Bristol, England "We're With You!!!"

We stand with you in your fight to preserve quality care for the elderly and people with disabilities. We stand with you in your fight to win recognition and respect for the selfless, hard work of homecare. Your quality care brings companionship, dignity and independence to the most vulnerable people in society. There is no more important work in your community and your jobs should not be privatized.

Here in California, we are winning broader support from both Democrats and Republicans in beating back proposed cuts to homecare funding. With persistence, our voices are being heard and homecare workers are winning better wages and benefits every day.

Know that we share in your commitment and struggle and that there are 200,000 California homecare workers supporting you as you work toward what is fair, just and decent.

In Solidarity,
Tyrone Freeman
Long-Term Care Workers' Union
California United Homecare Workers

Washington's support for Keep Bristol Home Care

Dear TGWU Sisters and Brothers,

On behalf of 30,000 unionized public and private sector home care and nursing home workers in the Washington State who are members of SEIU 775, I am writing to express our solidarity and support in your current struggle for high-quality, publicly accountable home care services in Bristol.

Home care workers perform some of the most important, and least recognized, work in our society, providing life-sustaining care to frail elderly persons and persons with disabilities. In the United States, home care workers often earn the minimum wage and have been frequently denied legal rights and protections that most other workers take for granted.

Twenty years ago, home care workers in the United States began to unite for dignity and strength through our union, SEIU, under the slogan "Invisible no more." Today, over 400,000 home care workers have joined SEIU nationally and in many cases have seen their compensation double, earning increased pay, health benefits, leave time, other benefits, and most importantly of all, recognition for the important
work that they do.

Home care workers in the United States have achieved these victories here by doing precisely what you are doing today: holding politicians accountable for high-quality care, dignified work, and the right to unite together for dignity and justice on the job.

Please accept our wishes of support and solidarity as you rally today to maintain high standards of quality care and quality jobs and do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide other support or assistance to you in your current struggle.
In Solidarity,
David Rolf

Friday, 13 April 2007


EASTON, Bristol, Friday 20th April, 2pm
Saint Marks Road

Assemble: Outside Sweet Mart, halfway up St Marks Rd
March with Home Care Assistants against the privatisation of Bristol City Council Care jobs. We care about older and disabled vulnerable people in your community who need our care. Join us in a peaceful march to demand quality care services, accountable to local people.
“Home Care is a critically important service, it should not be sold off at public auction to the cheapest bidder. The Council manage its own in house service properly; it is the best chance of providing a service for Bristol to be proud of. We need our service users, their families and all people in Bristol to support us. We will not abandon our service users. Please join our march and sign our online petition at:

Families Welcome
Refreshments and Speeches at Easton Community Centre

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Marching on Easton

The campaign committee met and we decided to hold a march and rally in Easton next Friday. We were pleased to welcome Faruk Choudhury to our meeting and talk about developing our links with the Muslim community in the City. Faruk is the labour canditate standing against Lib Dem Cllr Keily in the Easton ward of Bristol. It is Cllr Keily who has pushed through the Council's privatisation plans. Keily is the executive member for Adult and Community Care and he hangs by a thread in his job with Labour having already decided he needs to go and the Torys putting him 'on probation'.
We will protest on Keily's home turf and the campaign committee is tasked with organising a strong turn out from the Home care Assistants for our afternoon of demonstration.

Home care assistants met last week - we are determined to step up our campaign

Because we care about our service users we have been unwilling to call for industrial action, and prefer to ask the people of Bristol to support us, this should not be seen by the council as a weakness we won't be silenced or appeased and we will not go away. We will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the future of homecare is as a public not a private service where the care comes before the profit.

Steps we are taking:

We have formed a committee of 34 Home care assistants who will lead campaign organisation

  1. We will get involved with local council elections and back candidates who back us

  2. We will keep positive and recognise that we are making good progress, we are proud of who we are and the jobs we do, we are proud to serve the older and disabled people of Bristol

  3. We will gather as many signatures as possible for our petition

    We need our service users, their families and all people in Bristol to support us. We are ordinary working women, we are not trouble makers, but we are not a push-over. We will not abandon our service users and we will not be bullied out of our jobs.

    Please back our campaign and sign our online petition on the Council's website: Keep Bristol Home Care. Please talk to us in the street, we wear a mint green uniform and there are hundreds of us. We need to know you care too.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Today's Editorial Comment in the Bristol Evening Post

Public Issues over private Home Care

The issues over bringing in more private firms to provide Home Care services has undergone a further twist. After the protests, debates and finally, a Cabinet decision, comes the disclosure that the city council is overpaying home care companies to the tune of £800,000 a year.

And the news that it is looking at bringing in an electronic monitoring system to ensure that this does not happen in the future will undermine the confidence people are being asked to have in a wholly private home care service.

Basically, this means that currently the city council is paying almost £1 million a year too much for the private services it recieves. How on earth can such overpayments have been allowed to happen?

Is this proof of what can go wrong when a city council gives up running its own service? The city council has argued that buying home care service will not only be cheaper but that the standard of service will be the same. That is a difficult arguement to sustain given this latest revelation.

And it will give the opponents of this switch to privately provided home care services more concern and arguements to use in their continued campaign. But equally significant it raises cause for concern about the relationship between the city council and those who deliver these services.


Home Care Assistants meet this week to step up campaign

At a series of meetings in community locations across the City, Home Care Assistants will express their bitter disappointment at the Council’s decision to privatise and their determination to keep the issue in the forefront of voters’ minds in the run up to local elections.
The Transport and General Workers Union has lodged a dispute with Bristol City Council on behalf of all the trade unions representing the workers, the vast majority of whom are women.
Over the past 12 months hundreds have volunteered to change their working hours to enable the council controlled service to operate from 7am – 11pm for 365 days a year. In the past few weeks they have staged four mass demonstrations and leafleted supermarket shoppers, football fans and local residents. The Council should NOT underestimate the determination of the Home Care Assistants to keep their jobs and protect their service users. We will continue to campaign for a providing an in-house, first class care for vulnerable people in Bristol.

The meetings will take place:
Tuesday 3rd April, Rose Green Centre, 1pm
Wednesday 4th April, Southville Centre, 1pm
Thursday 5th April, BAWA Club, 1pm