In an article that will appear in Industrial Relations Journal, Caroline Murphy and Thomas Turner analyse how Irish trade union SIPTU used a combination of grassroots organising, court cases and political lobbying to organise (home) care workers and oppose cutbacks.
The campaign started in 2004 when the economy was buoyant. As a result of the 2008 fiscal crisis, the care sector faced cutbacks and outsourcing. The union responded with intensified organising aimed at creating solidarity among all workers in the care sector.
A crucial element in the campaign was the support of recipients of care and their family members, who participated in public demonstrations. Another element was a series of ‘road shows’ on the restructuring of home care, organised in collaboration with the government. Care workers were entitled to paid time off to attend. The meetings provided the union with an opportunity to mobilise more workers.
Up till now, SIPTU has concentrated on preventing further privatisation of care. An important challenge lies in organising care workers already employed by private sector companies, Murphy and Turner argue.