UNISON calls for action on Welsh care crisis

Public services union, UNISON, will today (Tuesday), warn local authorities that our care sector is in a state of crisis where overstretched resources deprive carers of any dignity at work. The trade union is visiting council offices across Wales to hand-deliver hundreds of postcards signed by members of the public concerned about the pay and conditions of those delivering care for older people, those who are physically disabled, individuals with mental health issues and those with learning disabilities and difficulties. UNISON is demanding councils better fund non-profit care organisations which provide a great deal of this care.

Extreme financial constraints have resulted in the slashing of carers’ supplements for sleep-ins at service users’ homes, holiday pay, bank holiday working premiums and sick pay. Typically, they earn the minimum wage of £7.20 an hour and carers have told UNISON they feel exploited and would be financially better off working on the tills at a supermarket. Yet the work carers undertake is valuable; they check on the welfare of service users and amongst other tasks, might help them take medication or prepare their meals.

UNISON is calling upon every council leader to meet with its representatives and care providers as soon as possible to discuss the crisis.

Lynne Hackett, UNISON organiser said,

“Our Christmas postcard campaign, engaging shoppers on Welsh high streets met with a very positive response. People were shocked to learn how badly those helping some of the most vulnerable in society are treated. UNISON is campaigning for a Living Wage of £8.45 per hour and fair employment conditions for all carers.

“We know the pressures councils are under because of savage UK Conservative government cuts but the answer can’t be to punish those delivering care. I have lost count of how many times a carer has told me they would earn more working at Aldi.

“It might be carers help a member of your family or someone on your street; society benefits from the work carers do. They are our community superstars and we want councils to provide sufficient funding to ensure quality care for service users and dignity for the workforce.”