Careworkers: Cannon fodder to the coronavirus?

From Manchester SolFed

It is well known by anyone who has ever worked in, or been around the social care system, how much employers in that sector try to exploit their staff and just how badly they treat them. Care workers have long felt they are viewed in low regard by both local authorities and the government, until recently being described by both local and national politicians as being ‘low skilled’. This has started to make headlines in the national press and get into the public consciousness and never has it been more apparent than during the current Coronavirus crisis, where employers have shown a complete disregard for the safety of not only their workers, but also for the people who use their services.

Careworkers have shown an unwavering commitment and compassion to the people they support by continuing to travel to work to support them every day despite the risks, with some workers going so far as to move into their places of work, leaving their families behind at home, in order to help shield the people they care for from the virus.

Meanwhile care employers have shown their usual commitment and compassion to their employees by treating them as badly as they possibly can in order to protect profit margins. Most care workers have never been eligible for sick pay and receive only Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and this has continued during the current crisis.

Workers have said they have been pressured to go into work and do shifts even though they are isolating at home either because they themselves have become sick or due to a sick or shielding family member and some of those that live in a household with a high risk family member and who want to self isolate to protect them have been told that they will not even be eligible for SSP and will go unpaid, as it is not they themselves who are sick.

Care staff have also been pressured to provide sick notes for all time spent off self isolating due to having Cornavirus symptoms, despite the government advice being that you only need to provide an isolation note, which can be applied for online to help ease pressure on GP surgeries, and of course the fact that all absences 7 days or less can be self-certified.

The government’s mixed messaging on pay for workers who are shielding due to health issues has led to complete confusion as to whether care staff who are shielding at home for 12 weeks are entitled to be furloughed as per the government’s program and receive at least 80% of their regular wage.

Some workers are saying that their employer has agreed to place them on furlough while others have said that they have been told they will only receive SSP for 12 weeks. Some staff have even been told they will be placed on furlough only to be told later that their employer will not be doing so.

For low paid staff who are on Minimum Wage and often have no savings, the prospect of being on SSP, which is currently only £94.25 a week, for at least 12 weeks with no idea of when this will be over,  is a pretty daunting one and one that may not be affordable for many.

The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and aprons as well as hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment for care workers is a national scandal and is leaving both care workers and the people they care for at massive risk of contracting, or spreading through no fault of their own, the Coronavirus.

So desperate has the situation become that companies have tried to source PPE from local nail bars and vet’s practices with up to 80% of providers saying they do not have adequate PPE. One worrying report emerged from the GMB union in Scotland of a care home locking PPE in a cupboard away from staff.

Care staff have been receiving varying, if any,  advice on how and when to use PPE with some being told by their employers that some PPE will only be provided if a service user is showing symptoms of Coronavirus and they have to perform personal care, despite the fact that the virus seems to be extremely contagious, easily transmissable and spreading at a rapid rate and by the time the company has got around to deciding to provide PPE, it may be too late.

The lack of Coronavirus testing also means that care staff are having to isolate for up to 14 days without knowing if they, or someone they live with. has the virus and also leaves them open to being pressured by management to return to work, not knowing if they still have, or have had, the illness.

The very human cost of the lack of resources from government and the negligent practices of care companies is being tragically demonstrated across the country as the death toll grows higher and the virus spreads. One care home in Glasgow has lost 16 residents after Coronavirus spread through the service and another in Liverpool has also been hit badly where 9 residents have died with the home manager saying two thirds of her staff were off ill. Several care workers across the country have now sadly died from the virus.

Care workers have described the current situation as feeling like they are ‘cannon fodder’, the phrase coming from armed conflict where soldiers, historically from poor and working class backgrounds, would be sent to the front lines and were seen as disposable. The similarity here is that once again the working class is seen as expendable and little thought is given to their welfare by the bosses and politicians as long as work is being done and services being provided or profit being made.

For too long care workers have been described as low skilled and they remain some of the lowest paid workers in the country, yet recently we have seen their dedication and bravery in working through the Coronavirus. A workforce that is overwhelmingly made up of female and migrant workers, which has a lot do with the exploitation they have been subjected to,  has shown just how essential they are whilst the bosses and those in positions of authority have demonstrated once again just how incompetent and cowardly they are with care company CEOs, directors and senior managers safely working from home but expecting frontline staff to take huge risks.

When we hopefully, eventually get through this crisis it is obvious the care sector needs to be completely transformed to work for the people who need its care and the people who provide it, rather than in the interests of profit. The way the system is now just cannot continue. If you want to organise your workplace and improve your conditions please get in touch with Solidarity Federation and we can help.

Class struggle events listing, Nov 25-Dec 1st

Cautiously pessimistic
Another quickish listing of upcoming events for the next week. In passing, I’d just like to plug the new Spycops resource, and also to mention that the Nottingham College dispute has ended after a new deal was accepted, as has the one by non-academic staff at the University of Birmingham.

The big thing coming up soon is the eight days of strike action being taken at around 60 universities over pensions, pay and conditions by UCU members, from Monday 25th through to Wednesday 4th December. A similar ballot by Unison members working in non-academic roles returned a majority favouring strike action, but didn’t pass the 50% turnout needed. Having said that, UCU Left advise that “Successful pay ballots allow other workers who are not in UCU to participate in strikes. (It is unlawful for employers to discriminate by union membership and branches can extract statements from HR to that effect.)” So non-academic workers at affected universities are probably best off contacting their local branch to work out what to do. For anyone wanting resources, I’m not aware of a strike bulletin this time round, but the Autonomous Design Group have some nice poster designs, and the IWW and Unis Resist Border Controls have made some useful leaflets, the latter being multilingual.

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UVW cleaners STRIKE PICKET times on 7th, 8th, 9th August at RBKC and MoJ.

Via  Anarchist Action Network

There will also be surprise actions at various others sites throughout the 3 days so stay tuned for updates. Emma Dent Coad MP will be joining the picket at RBKC on Tuesday.

Tuesday 7th

7.30am – 10am – picket Ministry of Justice HQ, 102 Petty France
12pm – 2pm – picket Kensington town hall
6pm – protest RBKC council meeting – Kensington town hall

Wednesday 8th

8am – 11am – picket Kensington town hall
12pm – 2pm – picket Ministry of Justice HQ, 102 Petty France

Thursday 9th

8am – 11am – picket Kensington town hall
12pm – 2pm – picket Ministry of Justice HQ, 102 Petty France
5pm – 6pm – Protest and closing rally at Ministry of Justice HQ, 102 Petty France

Please make a donation to their strike fund if you can

facebook event

Red And Black telly: JUNE REFERENDUM 2 + Sadiq Khan – The first weeks

Martin advocates abstention, for the ‘out’ case, see Mal Content

Day of action in support of Topshop two.

green-parasite

Philip Green is a parasite

Industrial Workers of the World Dorset

A spur of the moment protest in support of United Voices of the World union’s day of action against topshop, for their poverty wages and anti-union practices.

Dorset wobs assembled outside the shop at criterion arcade, in Bournemouth town centre with a couple of sheets of cardboard and proceeded to make placards; this attracted attention straight away. We hadn’t managed to get any leaflets printed in time so departed from the usual tactic of haranguing passers-by and pressing paper into their hands. Standing and walking around with our placards and banner we found people actually slowed down to read and engage with us rather than marching past with their heads down as usual. We had some interesting conversations and made some good contacts. We were later joined by comrades from Dorset Radical assembly.

The management was alerted to our presence when a punter returned the goods they had just bought…

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Wessex welcomes new IWW Dorset branch!

iwwlogo DORSETgreenIndustrial Workers of the World Dorset group is in the process of chartering as a branch in its own right, having operated for several years under the auspices of Bristol General Members’ Branch. The paperwork’s all done we’re just waiting for the formalities and should be fully operational in the new year.

The IWW is a certified union and can represent you at work, but unlike the TUC unions we’re not shy of direct action and don’t have to pretend we’re all on the same side, we’re not bothered about getting Labour elected and none of us has any ambition to sit in the house of lords! Follow the logo to the side of the page.

– Cindy Callist.

Victory for Dorset Health Campaign! Community rejects pathology privatisation.

The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it” – Aneurin Bevan.

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The people of Dorset have seen off the piratisation parasites and foiled attempts to flog off the Dorset county hospital’s pathology lab to private contractors out of the county.

Street theatre by Bridport Unite Community Branch outside Dorchester hospital ahead of its board meeting on Wednesday.

The directors caved in to the avalanche of public outrage over the profiteering scheme. Demonstrations have been taking place outside the hospital for a year and a petition gathered over 11,000 signatures. This is one up the shitter for ‘evil Oliver’ Letwin the bloodsucking M.P. for West Dorset whose manifestation is anticipated in Bridport next month.

Discussions began in July 2013 to sub-contract the service to South West Pathology Services in Taunton – See more:

In August, 24 Dorset G.P.s wrote to the Echo:

“The innovation of electronic reporting means we can receive a result in the late afternoon from a sample taken in the morning. This is great for patient care. There is no intention from local GPs to destabilise or undermine our local service by forcing competition and making a market where none is needed.”

In September a row erupted over a proposal to spend three and a half grand training the governors and appoint a spokesperson to stop them giving the game away to the media.

On Monday midwives at Dorset County Hospital will strike over an ‘insulting’ one percent pay rise. The Royal College of Midwives estimate that if their members, who rely on food banks to survive, began billing the NHS for the 13 hours of overtime they clock up on average over a few weeks, it would increase their pay packets by one percent anyway.

The NHS was built by the working class for the working class. Drugs and medical equipment are made by workers not capitalists. Cleaners, doctors, nurses, midwives, porters and technicians are workers. It belongs to us, it’s not a source of revenue for the socially useless. Keep your filthy grasping bourgeois hands off it!

Dorset Eye report

To celebrate, here’s a song about vampires:

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Autonomy films present: Hispanic film evening in Bridport Sat 28th June 2014.

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Saturday 28th June 2014 7.15pm W.I. Hall, North Street, Bridport Entry: £3 or less if you can’t afford it Vegetarian soup on sale from 6.45pm Discussion afterwards about art and politics for anyone interested.

*EVENTS ORGANISED BY OTHERS*

No More Austerity:  National Demonstration and Free Festival organized by the People’s Assembly Saturday 21st June 19,  assemble 1pm at BBC HQ Portland Place London W1 1AA, March to Parliament Square.

‘Robert Potts and his Lost Photo-History of Bridport’

Tuesday 8th – Saturday 19th July   in the Foyer, Bridport Arts Centre Pre-exhibition seeking local involvement to piece together social history from the postcards of pioneer photographer Potts.

Thursday 10th July  *National One-Day Strike against Austerity* by public service workers

Friday 18th July to Sunday 20th July in the usual field in Tolpuddle Tolpuddle Festival ‘to celebrate the early trades union martyrs.’ Stalls, music, workshops, camping.  Book online. Events on Sunday are free.

SOAS Cleaners’ protest today 4th July 2013 12:30

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Call to support motions to BMA Conference for London Living Wage for cleaners at BMA House

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The British Medical Association, the national trade union for doctors, pays its workers who clean BMA House the minimum wage of £6-19/hour. The cleaners are demanding the London Living Wage, £8-55/hour. To date the BMA have used the cop out that it is their subcontractor, Interserve, who set the rate of pay. However, the BMA awards the cleaning contract and so holds ultimate responsibility.

In October 2011 the BMA published a guide on tackling inequalities in health for doctors, ‘Social Determinants of Health: What Doctors Can Do’. The report urges doctors and their organizations to work towards creating fair employment and good work, and ensuring a healthy standard of living for all. As the then BMA President pointed out many BMA members are already doing this. Two such examples are BMA Tower Hamlets Division and the BMA London Regional Council which have both submitted motions to the BMA Annual Representatives Meeting supporting the cleaners demand for the London Living Wage.

The BMA Annual Representatives Meeting starts in Edinburgh on Monday 24th June. At present the motions have been consigned to the section “unlikely to be reached due to lack of time” so on Friday (21st June) London IWW leafleted outside BMA House to urge BMA members and passes by to help get motions 482 and 483 on the Table.

You too can help right now. Please email the BMA in Scotland and demand that these motions are heard.

BMA Annual Representative Meeting: London Living Wage

482. Motion by Tower Hamlets Division

That this Meeting notes the dispute between cleaners at BMA House last year and their employer, a private contractor, Interserve, over refusal to pay the cleaners the London living wage. This Meeting calls on the BMA:
i. not to contract with any organisation in the future which does not pay its workers at least the London living wage;
ii. not to renew the contract with Interserve, or any other private contractor if they refuse to pay at least the London living wage;
iii. to amend the contract with Interserve and all other private contractors to pay at least the London living wage at the earliest opportunity.

483. Motion by London Regional Council
That this Meeting sadly notes that the cleaning staff contracted to work in BMA House are paid less than the London living wage. We call upon Council to take immediate measures to ensure that all staff directly employed by the BMA, or working in BMA House in sub-contracted roles, are paid not less than their local living wage.

Please send an email to: BMAScotland@bma.org.uk
Suggested wording: ‘The failure of the BMA to pay its cleaners the London Living Wage disgraces an organisation that is a trade union and a guardian of the nation’s health. Please ensure that the ‘London Living Wage’ motions to conference 482 & 483 are heard, and acted on.’

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