Unison boss Dave Prentis joined social care workers on the picket line as Care UK staff in Doncaster held their 23rd day of strike action over plans to reduce their pay and conditions.
The dispute follows Care UK’s takeover of learning disability services in the Yorkshire town last year and the company’s subsequent plan to reduce pay, overtime, holiday entitlement and sick leave.
Prentis said: “Many of our members will simply not be able to pay their bills and some would lose their homes.
“They have shown courage and self-sacrifice to take this action because it is not just the threatened cuts they are fighting against.
“They are also fighting to preserve a service to some of the most vulnerable people in society and I want to show our admiration and solidarity for a brave and principled group of people.”
Unison’s Doncaster branch is now asking other branches of the union to make donations to its hardship fund to help the employees continue with their industrial action.
Care UK has said Unison is refusing to accept any changes to pay and conditions despite a funding situation that means savings must be made.
It has said that its plans would protect the basic pay of staff and would not involve any job losses.
Care UK won the three-year contract to provide learning disabilities services in Doncaster last year.
The service supports 130 adults and as part of the deal 245 employees were transferred to Care UK from Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.
The strikes followed a ballot of 150 Unison members at the Doncaster service that saw nine out of 10 back industrial action.