Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/32208
Posted on 19 March 2021 at 17:28 GMT
'Sleep-ins' ruling must lead to a huge campaign for social care workers' rights
Social worker, photo WorldSkills UK/CC (Click to enlarge)
The Supreme Court has decided that the hours social care workers have to spend at work away from their homes on so-called 'sleep-ins' don't attract the minimum wage. This is a blow to the many thousands of low-paid workers in this sector.
But it is also another warning to the trade unions that relying on the courts to achieve key objectives will only succeed in the rarest of cases.
The judiciary is not independent. For the most part, it protects the interests of the capitalist economic system. If the decision had been in favour of workers, the estimates are that it could have cost social care providers £400 million. This is why the ruling came out in favour of Mencap and against the workers.
Sleep-in staff are those who are working on-call at night in homes and other establishments - sleeping on the premises - to deal with residents and service users who wake up and need assistance. They do not get a full night's sleep but are constantly waiting for the cough or alarm that could signal someone is in trouble.
The court ruled that staff couldn't be paid the minimum wage while they are not awake, even though they have to be on the premises. However, if anything goes wrong, they can be disciplined and even prevented from working in care again if they don't respond. How is this not working?
The unions will undoubtedly now call on the government for a change in the law, but unless this is backed up by a huge campaign it is likely to fall on deaf ears. The Socialist Party is demanding that a campaign should be launched immediately.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 March 2021 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
Donate to the Socialist Party
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.
Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777
Email: [email protected]
Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206
Regional Socialist Party organisers:
Eastern: 079 8202 1969
East Mids: 077 3797 8057
London: 075 4018 9052
North East: 078 4114 4890
North West 079 5437 6096
South West: 077 5979 6478
Southern: 078 3368 1910
Wales: 079 3539 1947
West Mids: 024 7655 5620
Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793