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From: The Socialist issue 958, 9 August 2017: Striking back against poverty pay

Search site for keywords: Care workers - Workers - Poverty - Pay - Wages - Outsourcing - Healthcare - NHS - Carers - Minimum wage

End poverty pay for sleep-in care workers

Care workers are some of the most exploited in the country

Care workers are some of the most exploited in the country   (Click to enlarge)

Katie, support worker for adults with learning disabilities

'Amnesty' for care companies, more poverty wages for the workers.

Since the NHS began outsourcing care services to private companies and charities, wages and conditions for carers, support workers and healthcare assistants have been squeezed. The care sector is fast becoming the new slave wage job where employers are taking advantage of the cheap overseas labour pool. And with more and more older adults and more people with disabilities living into adulthood these services are at full capacity.

As a result there are thousands of workers across the UK who are being paid illegal wages. One such case has highlighted the issue. The charity Mencap has been found to be in breach of minimum wage laws for paying 29.05 for nine-hour, sleep-in shifts. And this is not a rare case. As a carer and a support worker I have undertaken sleep-in shifts for a variety of companies with one paying as little as 24 for a nine-hour shift. Yet a recent government ruling has let these companies off the hook. Mencap claimed that obeying the law could lead to a loss of services to vulnerable adults.

But where is the amnesty for those staff who spend nights away from their families for a pittance? Some staff have been asked to sleep with noisy monitors beside their bed and fire doors that slam shut at 4am.

The Socialist Party calls on all unions to back a list of demands including hourly pay for sleep-in staff, without averaging out and for a massive increase in investment into care services, including from local councils.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
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