Social care

Social care: tax the rich!

Social care needs a transformation comparable to the transformation of UK healthcare seven decades ago through the NHS. It seems likely such a policy, for a public care and support system, would be popular, if strong enough voices argued for it. At the moment the forces campaigning for anything like it are weak, but the issue is centre-stage as never before. When the Tories produced their “plan for social care” — taxing workers more to produce extra money for the NHS and a much smaller amount for care services (later) — the Labour Party embarrassed itself by its lack of alternative ideas. Now...

Tax the rich for social care, pensions, benefits

Care and Support Workers Organise protest in Manchester on their day of action, 4 September TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady is right to respond to the talk of National Insurance increases by arguing that “it’s time to raise taxes on wealth to fund social care properly”. A section of the right is are using phrases like “intergenerational fairness” to justify removing the triple lock which guarantees substantial increases in the basic state pension (by average earnings, inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher). Others say that social care should be funded by squeezing older people more...

"This is about the kind of world we want to live in"

Ali Treacher is a care worker, Unite the Union activist and workplace rep, and Secretary of the Care and Support Workers Organise! network (CaSWO!) She is also a supporter of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. She spoke to us about care workers' fight. CaSWO! has been meeting throughout the last year, since the start of the pandemic, after a Unison-organised call which brought together care workers around issues like workplace health and safety and PPE. The initial focus was basically offering each other solidarity and advice and sharing information. Government guidelines were so vague that we had to...

Salford Unison pushes care workers' charter

Salford’s local government Unison branch was the first to win the right to full isolation pay for all care workers in their council area, a victory that triggered others in the North West. Now they have put a series of care workers’ demands to candidates in their local elections: 1. The Foundation Living Wage (currently £9.50/hour) for all Salford care workers. 2. Holiday pay based on normal wages. 3. Sleep-in pay at the Foundation Living Wage rate. 4. Occupational sick pay for all Salford care workers. 5. Publicly delivered social care. 6. A strong voice for workers, those in receipt of care...

Sage care workers ballot again

Workers at the Sage care home in north London are gearing up for a new industrial action ballot, as they continue their fight to win living wages, full sick pay, and parity with NHS terms and conditions. The care workers, who are members of the United Voices of the World union (UVW) previously struck in January and February. Workers in the privatised care sectors, many of whom are migrants, are typically low-paid, without access to contractual sick pay, and with a much worse annual leave entitlement than healthcare workers employed by the NHS. UVW has added its voice to calls for a free...

Now win full isolation pay for all

For the past few months the Safe and Equal campaign (S&E) has been working with Labour MPs to demand full sick and isolation pay for all frontline Test Centre workers. On 29 March 2021, S&E and Emily Thornberry MP got a letter from Sodexo HR Director Greg Austin: “Since receiving your enquiry I am pleased to report that the DHSC have approved the payment of occupational sick pay for periods of self-isolation for all workers at Test Centres. This commitment has also been included in the tender specification for the new Test Centre contract which commences in July 2021.” Previously, G4S and...

Win on disability rights

Disabled people’s organisations have scored an important victory as the government has announced that local councils will no longer be excused from meeting their social care obligations. A year ago, the Coronavirus Act included provisions for councils to apply for “easements”, under which they would not have to provide assessment and care under the Care Act. Eight councils had used this provision, including — shamefully — two Labour councils. But campaigners had objected throughout the year and their pressure has finally been rewarded. This follows the withdrawal late last year of the...

Care workers challenge anti-union harassment

United Voices of the World (UVW) members at the Sage care home in north London are pursuing two legal claims against their employer. The workers previously struck in January and February to win living wages and parity with NHS workers’ terms and conditions on sick pay and annual leave entitlements. A UVW statement said: “The first claim is a group claim concerning a letter sent by the home’s trustees during a ballot for industrial action in October 2020... A second individual claim for victimisation is also being brought by a former employee of the home.” Bella Ruiz, a former care assistant...

Social care: only a fully public system will do

Recent Covid data has underlined the alarming state of social care in the UK. Yet the biggest union of social care workers, Unison, has responded by allying with the very people overseeing this dire situation. Not that far off a quarter of the UK’s virus-connected deaths so far, over 26,000, have been in care homes. That includes over 7,000 this year. Meanwhile between March and December there were 79 deaths per 100,000 social care workers, as opposed to 31.4 among workers in general (among women, 35.9 vs 16.8). Among frontline care home and home care workers, the figures were 109.9 for men...

Care workers demand parity with NHS

Workers at the Sage care home in north London struck again from 4-8 February, following an initial strike on 15-17 January, as they seek to win wages of £12/hour, and parity with NHS staff on conditions such as sick pay and annual leave allowance. Safely distanced picket lines were held outside their workplace. In a video published on the United Voices of the World union’s Twitter feed, striking worker Bile said: “We are once again on strike, for a living wage, better sick pay, better annual leave, better overtime when we are at work, for a better life. We are tired of working long, long hours...

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