As Welsh government, care employers and trade unions meet today (Friday) to finalise preparations for the new Social Care Forum, UNISON has said it is time to show frontline care workers they are valued and pay them what they are worth.
UNISON Cymru Wales argues the care sector is broken and so underfunded, care workers are prevented from providing the level of support their clients need.
The trade union says very low wages mean employees often suffer in-work poverty.
It argues the much-anticipated Social Care Forum represents a chance to completely overhaul the care sector to the benefit of clients; their families; the community and the lives of thousands of Wales’ largely female care workforce.
UNISON says care workers have demonstrated how vital they are to our community well-being during the Covid pandemic and has called for them to receive at least £10 per hour.
Mark Turner, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for social care, said,
“Care workers have put caring for our loved ones ahead of their own and their family’s safety during the Covid pandemic.
“They are working so hard despite a broken care system and lack of funding that leaves many of them in poverty. Often, care workers don’t receive sick pay or the well-being support, NHS colleagues receive as a matter of course. That’s got to change. Now is the time to reward them.
“UNISON wants the Social Care Forum to be as ambitious as possible reforming the care sector to bring it up to the level esteem and investment the National Health Service receives. This would improve the lives of clients and thousands of care workers and their families.”
Bridgend care worker, Pat Jones said,
“We love our jobs and helping people in need but when you think of the value of our work, we’re paid peanuts.
“Care workers should be valued as highly as staff working in the NHS and paid decent wages.
“The whole sector requires huge investment to allow care workers to provide clients with the level of support we want to give and for care workers to be afforded dignity and respect.”
Notes for editors
UNISON says typically care workers in the private or not-for-profit sector earn minimum wage pay on insecure, zero hour contracts. Some care workers are unsure one day to the next whether they have got a job. Very low pay means many are reliant on Universal Credit to survive.
A Social Care Forum is one of the ideas developed from the Fair Work Commission report Fair Work Wales. Today (Friday) is the first pre-meeting for setting-up the Forum.
The independent Commission was set up by Welsh Government after longstanding demands from the Wales TUC and the trade union movement for Wales to become a fair work nation. The commission was asked to analyse how work can be made fairer in Wales.
The report recommends Welsh Government sets up a social care forum where employers, trade unions and Welsh Government meet on an equal footing to look at ways of improving employment and pay rights in the sector.
Find out more about the Fair Work Commission with UNISON’s blog with the Wales TUC
UNISON has developed an Ethical Care Charter
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97