8:24am Monday 26th February 2007
By Kate Thompson
The Daily Echo has launched its Justice for Carers campaign - giving you the chance to show how much you care about the plight of those who look after the elderly and infirm.
Never have Hampshire's professional carers been so much under threat with 172 adult carers jobs being axed by the county council and the scrapping of payments for working unsociable hours in Southampton.
The cutbacks will save millions but workers and the unions who represent them fear the standard of care will suffer.
On the left we have printed a petition form so you can show Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council just how strongly you support the county's carers.
In recent weeks there have been unprecedented scenes, with traditionally mild-mannered carers turning militant to strike in Southampton and man the picket lines.
Typically these are women who would never consider taking industrial action - in previous disputes the carers have been given a dispensation to continue working because they found it so difficult to let residents down.
With the revelation that some will lose up to £7,000 a year with the loss of payments for working night shifts, weekends and public holidays like Christmas Day, the women took the painful decision to strike.
Union convenor Terry Hinton explained: "They thought it was predominantly women who would be affected and they wouldn't put up a fight but they were wrong.
"Most of them have been carers for years - some as long as 30 years - but they are not willing to just let this happen to them.
"They felt they had no alternative but to take action," he said.
Carer Lynda Miller, 58, has been a carer for 32 years and she stands to lose £5,600 under the new arrangements.
She works nights, weekends and public holidays and feels angry that she should have to take such a massive cut.
She is the sole breadwinner at home after her husband Billy took early retirement and Lynda, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, has been left deeply unsettled by the experience.
"I'm good at my job and I really love what I do - so why not look after the care staff they have who really care and pay them properly for the work they do.
"All this has left me feeling angry and undervalued," she said.
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