Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/572/7093

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 March 2009

Low wages, long hours, residents at risk

The uncaring care sector

Unique Care workers on strike against management bullying and harrassment, photo Huddersfield SP

Unique Care workers on strike against management bullying and harrassment, photo Huddersfield SP

LAST YEAR, the TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment report highlighted the care sector as having "some of the highest incidence of employment rights abuse." Since I was 19 I have worked in the care sector with the most vulnerable people in society. People living in care homes suffer the consequences of councils' cutbacks and big business greed.

Janet Thompson

On 10 February the government announced a 150 million cut in spending on social care services for older people in England. The same week it was announced that the number of people over 85 increased by 4%. Of course there will also be more need for social care services now we are in recession.

While councils are closing local services, the big businesses running the care homes are charging high rents and allowing abuse to continue. Where I work, we regularly don't receive our weekly housekeeping money, which buys food and cleaning products.

The first time it happened was the day after we got paid. We carers, that company's lowest paid employees, each put a bit of our wages together to buy food for the residents. We had to wait another month to get our money back.

Low wages

Many care workers are paid the minimum wage or a little above it. If I was to do no overtime I would only bring home 9,000 a year. More and more care workers are employed on zero-hour contracts and often get short notice of when they are due to work.

As the homes' residents require 24-hour care, most jobs are shift-based so workers are required to work days, evenings, nights and weekends, which can cause health problems and stress.

Dangerous understaffing, high staff turnover and staff sickness are common in the care sector. The companies running care homes rely on the low wages, which force people to work long hours. When I first started, I worked an average of 85 hours a week.

Twice I have gone into work on a Friday morning and come out on a Monday evening with no official break. One man I work with has done so many hours that, to make his workload look legal on paper, management have already filled out his time sheet for every day until May.

Yet still many care homes run short-staffed, putting residents and workers at risk. At my home, we need 12 staff on two day shifts and seven on a night shift but the company will only pay for 30 care staff a day. So, at least one shift must be one person down.

Last year, one resident was moved into a completely unsuitable unit and we were given no equipment to help us care for her. I cannot believe the health risks we took when we did not get the correct lifting equipment, but at the time you just think I have to care for this woman, this is what she needs.

Management didn't care about our health or hers; she was 'high dependency' and paid more than most to live there, a bigger profit for them.

Soon people were talking about "working to rule". No one takes their lunch break and many people work 13-hour shifts back-to-back. If we stopped they would be in a big mess. Management then said they would look into finding her somewhere else to live, but nothing was done.

People talked about walking out all together, refusing to work in the unit where this woman lived, even a whole site walk-out to get our point across.

Inspection

Then CSCI, the organisation that investigates care homes, made an unannounced inspection. Normally we tell them what they want to hear, but not this time. We did not backdate paper work that was not filled in at the correct time. If they asked us a question we told them about the reality of working there.

When it came to the resident we were worried about, we told them exactly what had happened. The CSCI told management that she had to be moved out.

Steps were put in place to move her but unfortunately she died at Christmas. This was not as a direct result of the care she received, but people felt guilty that we were unable to give her everything she needed to spend her last days in dignity and comfort.

However, the ideas of walking out or working to rule are still there. Older workers at the home talk to the younger workers with no experience of industrial action. As yet no action has been taken but the mood is completely different to last year. I am known as a Socialist Party member and my colleagues have been coming to talk to me about politics in general.

Like most care homes, we work in shifts with day staff alternating between early and late shifts. On Thursday we were told that our hand-over period - between 2pm and 3pm where both shifts work together in order to tell people what happened - would be cut. We would lose an hour, this works out at 20 hours a month.

There was no apology or explanation, just our manager running around the site shouting it out and saying we were 'lucky to still have a job'. Management have no respect for us or the time and energy we put into our work.

It's a slap in the face that they think us 'lucky' for working ourselves into the ground. A loss of 20 hours pay makes all the difference to heating our homes, paying our rent and feeding our families.

The care sector employs women who depend on flexible hours to get around the lack of decent cheap child care, but they fall victim themselves to the poor working conditions and long hours they do to survive and out of fear of losing their jobs. Many young people go into the care sector looking for a career, but again end up working long hours to keep their heads above water.

Students studying health and social care are often brought into care homes for work experience and do the job for free, others doing apprenticeships are in the same situation. Those that are paid usually get below the minimum wage.

The care sector is rotten to its core. It relies on poor conditions for its workers and poor living conditions for the service users, all to boost profits. We know this is true of the whole capitalist system, and more and more workers are coming to the same conclusion.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 25 March 2009:

Capitalist crisis: Make the bosses pay!

March for jobs!

Map of Youth March for Jobs route


Socialist Party editorial

Tide of job losses must be fought


Socialist Party election campaign

Rail union launches euro election challenge

An appeal from Bob Crow

No2EU Financial Appeal pdf

NO2EU Supporter appeal pdf


Socialist Party campaigns

Students need a mass fighting organisation

Credit crunch hits home

Campaign for a new workers' party

MPs - an honourable profession!

Fast News


Socialist Party feature

The uncaring care sector

Pay for your own vetting


Socialist Party marxist analysis

State repression in Britain

Keeping (illegal) tabs on us


International socialist news and analysis

France: Three million take to the streets in national strike

Canada: "Fighting back makes a difference"

Mass demo in New York against budget cuts

Scotland: International Socialists conference a big step forward

Dundee Prisme occupation: Workers remain defiant

Stop the slaughter of Tamils: London campaign meeting


Socialist Party workplace news

Nom-dom jobs slasher

New allegations hit Unison's right wing

Unison Four to face further hearings

Wales: United battle needed to stop college cuts

Fighting for justice for cleaners!

PCS Land Registry jobs and pay campaign

Workplace news in brief


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 March 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Care workers:

triangleEnd poverty pay for sleep-in care workers

triangleThem & Us

triangleHealth service: condition critical

triangleAusterity measures cut social care provision

Homes:

triangleDebate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?

triangleThousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes

triangleStop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangleSix months on - still no justice for Grenfell

Health:

triangleDemonstration: NHS in crisis - fix it now!

triangleClosure of Nottingham unit shows dismantling of NHS

triangleSustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/1/18

Waltham Forest

Outrage against 'monster block' plan

12/1/18

Manchester

Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

10/1/18

McDonalds

Strike wins biggest pay rise in ten years

10/1/18

Usdaw

Amy Murphy for Usdaw president - vote for a fighting and democratic union

10/1/18

The Socialist

Socialist sales highest in years as mistrust in capitalist media hits record levels

10/1/18

Fighting Fund

2017 was the best fighting fund total this century!

10/1/18

NHS

Closure of Nottingham unit shows dismantling of NHS

10/1/18

Hackney

Hoxton: "Stop this unwanted development"

10/1/18

Newham

Newham academy strikes spread to Cumberland school

8/1/18

RMT

RMT rail members buoyed by coordinated action

4/1/18

RMT

Strike against driver-only operation on five rail networks

3/1/18

Higher Education

UCU members balloting for action on pension cuts

3/1/18

Bradford

Bradford protest against children's service cuts

3/1/18

Leeds

Leeds college pay protests

3/1/18

National Education Union

Equal sick pay rights for staff at Charlton Park Academy

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

triangle10 Jan Strike wins biggest pay rise in ten years

triangle10 Jan Movement of workers and youth challenges Iranian regime

triangle10 Jan Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's...

triangle10 Jan Sustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

More ...

triangle16 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'Bad Art' - socialist struggle in the arts

triangle16 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: Building socialism in Cardiff in 2018

triangle17 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Planning for 2018

triangle17 Jan Salford Socialist Party: Housing crisis - the socialist solution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2