Responding to Welsh government plans to curb zero-hours contracts in social care, Andy Rutherford, UNISON Cymru organiser said,
“The social care sector is in crisis because it has been starved of money as a result of seven years of brutal Tory spending cuts. Many councils have farmed out social care in a bid to make savings but this has meant vulnerable people do not get the care they deserve and carers struggle on the minimum wage and precarious contracts.
“Zero hours contracts are a symptom of the lack of money in the care sector and the commissioning process should be the starting point. Yes, the Welsh government is to be commended for taking action here but let’s look at the procurement process as a priority. Councils should not be allowed to pass the buck. They are responsible to their communities and should provide quality care to their constituents, delivered by staff who are properly rewarded for the essential work they do. This means an end to poor pay and terms and conditions. They could do this much more easily if care services were undertaken directly and not hived out to private companies. We challenge councils to sign up to the Welsh government’s code of practice Ethical employment in the supply chain, as a practical measure to safeguard staff providing this valuable community service.
“With regard to the detail of the Welsh government proposals, we have concerns around the application of the choice after three months to either remain on zero hours or move to an alternative contractual arrangement. Without safeguards in place, this could lead to further potential for exploitation of workers providing essential care services to the most vulnerable in our communities.”