Bristol UNISON Calls for Fair Treatment for Care Staff
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, care staff have been on the
frontline. But the furlough scheme (where staff can be retained at
80% of their wages) doesn’t always seem to be applying care
providers. Because some of us are self-isolating with underlying
health concerns, we are not covered by the scheme, instead we have
found ourselves on statutory sick pay and are receiving
£92.24 per week instead, or are just standing down (on no
pay) for the duration.
The majority have remained at work and have been supporting vulnerable service users through what can be a life-or-death situation. Some of us might see residents die or become seriously ill. Some of us with health conditions have had to work through this crisis. Some of us have had to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Like the NHS, we have provided world class support, but normally behind closed doors without the public support enjoyed by the NHS.
We are often on poverty pay with some of us on the minimum wage, whilst others might enjoy the living wage. Also, the vast majority of us don’t have occupational sick pay, only statutory sick pay. This means we and our families endure poverty or we come into work and potentially infect other workers and service users. Shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, the government increased SSP from day-one of sickness rather than after the third day.
But Statutory Sick Pay is £92.24 per week – do you think a politician could live on this?
So, the choice is the same, stay at home and go without or go to work and possibly infect, or in the case of those with underlying health needs, perhaps become infected and with potentially disastrous outcomes.
We also note that during the pandemic it was not politicians, bankers, celebrities, or football players who strove to defeat this virus and look after vulnerable service users: it was us, key workers in care, and other frontline workers. We deserve to be respected, treated fairly, paid well, and kept safe whilst undertaking our duties.
Therefore, UNISON members in care call upon all care companies to implement at least stage one of the Ethical Care Charter…
… but with the addition of a properly funded occupational sick pay scheme.
Normally, an occupational sick pay scheme would be a stage three benefit, but we think that the current crisis has shown the importance of protecting the wellbeing of staff with such a scheme.
Bristol UNISON and the Ethical Care Charter calls for
• At least the living wage for all workers, irrespective of age
• Proper occupational sick pay from day-one for all workers. An end to the choice between poverty for us and our families, or cross-contamination for others
• Full personal protective equipment for all workers, held at care settings so that it can be accessed in time of need
• Pay for home-care workers, for travelling time
We also call upon Bristol City Council and other funders to implement this, and only fund those organisations who sign up to these principles. This will have wider benefits with recruitment and retention. Many care workers will be leaving over the next few years, and there is already a staffing shortage. Many will leave the caring profession after this crisis due to the way they have been treated. Whilst others from Europe will be returning to their places of birth due to Brexit.
We ask that this is debated at Full Council on ……………….. and implemented.
In solidarity there is strength,
Bristol UNISON Area Organiser,
Bristol UNISON Branch Secretary,
Started by: Steve Mills (Bristol UNISON)
This ePetition runs from 17/07/2020 to 28/08/2020.
122 people have signed this ePetition.