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Unison leader attacks Birmingham City Council for its treatment of home care workers

UNISON leader Dave Prentis has attacked Birmingham City Council for slashing the hours and earnings of its home care workers, urging them to “think again — or the labour movement will make you think again.”

The union’s general secretary received tumultuous applause at a packed rally yesterday evening when he criticised council bosses for cutting home care services.

“Birmingham is like many other councils where they have been destroyed in terms of funding, but they are still making choices,” he said. “The council did choose to make these cuts.

“We’re saying to them — you’ve made the wrong choice, and you’ve got to think again.

“And if you don’t think again, we will make you think again.”

Mr Prentis accused council bosses of weakening Labour’s chances of getting into government, saying: “We joined the Labour Party to create a better society — and this council will not take that away from us.

“These people are not the labour movement that I know.”

The rally was held in solidarity with 200 workers who have now taken 50 days of strike action against council plans to cut working hours.

Under the council’s latest proposals, a quarter of these workers would lose at least £2,000, while a significant proportion of them would be between £2,500 to £4,500 worse off.

Mr Prentis went on: “This dispute is personal and we will not allow our members to be treated in this way.

“Those in charge don’t see our people as people who have to worry about their families or put food on their table.

“We’re trying to help really great workers who have not been treated with respect or dignity, and have been forced down into poverty pay for choosing to help the most vulnerable within our society.”

Unison branch secretary Caroline Johnson spoke to the packed rally at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute, telling the audience: “We are older, we are overwhelmingly women, we are forgotten, we are suffering.

“When our services start crumbling around us, its women that are working those jobs, working-class women who have to fight for everything.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett also addressed the crowd.

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