Care workers given chance to shape future of minimum wage

Social care workers will today (Wednesday) provide key evidence to determine the future of the national minimum wage, says UNISON.

The union, which represents tens of thousands of employees in the sector across the UK, is campaigning for a national care service and says care workers should earn at least £15 per hour.

Today, care staff will meet with independent advisers to the UK government on the national minimum wage, known as low pay commissioners, at UNISON’s Cardiff office to give first-hand accounts of their struggles to make ends meet.

Low pay commissioners will use the evidence provided to help negotiate and agree rates for the national minimum wage. 

Care worker Sian Stockham said: “Social care is in crisis and people like me who deliver desperately needed services are trapped in in-work poverty. I’m past retirement age, but I can’t afford to pack it in.

“We work as hard as we can, but many care workers simply couldn’t get by without benefits.”

Sian, who is based in Abergavenny, added: “I love my job and we help people live better lives, but we’d earn more working in a supermarket.

“Society is getting a social care system on the cheap and we’re being exploited.” 

UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary Jess Turner said: “Private care companies are squeezing wages to maximise profits.

“Care workers are treated more fairly and better paid when they’re directly employed by councils. The system of care in Wales is failing thousands of mostly female staff and their families, and damaging the quality of service for those who need it most.

“Creating a national care service is the best way to overhaul a system on its knees that is failing the most vulnerable people in society. Key to that is looking after the welfare of the workers.

“Simply put, it is wrong to profit from people’s care.”