By Momentum Stevenage activists
On 30 April, at the weekly online meeting we have been holding during the lockdown, Momentum Stevenage discussed the issue of social care and adopted a strong policy for care workers’ rights and public ownership (see below). We want to see this kind of policy discussed, taken up and campaigned for throughout the labour movement.
We are meeting regularly because we think it is important for the left to come together and discuss how to organise against the seemingly accelerating right-wing direction in which Starmer is taking Labour, as well as getting to grips with the key issues nationally and locally.
On 28 April, data from the Office of National Statistics was released showing that our county, Hertfordshire, has the second highest rate of deaths in care homes in England. Of course there are immediate demands we must raise, but more broadly we cannot tackle this grim reality without confronting the rampant privatisation and fragmentation of the care sector. That is why we are calling for a fight to improve the conditions of care workers – also key to raising standards of care – but also for comprehensive public ownership of the sector.
Momentum Stevenage officer and Stevenage CLP Secretary Abbie Clark said:
“With low union density, the care sector was already one of the worst sectors of the economy for pay and conditions. In the Covid-19 pandemic, with the spread of the virus between care workers and the vulnerable people they support, poor workers’ rights have become a serious threat to safety.
“Without adequate PPE and full-pay to self-isolate, care workers are being forced to continue at work when it is not safe to do so. The private sector’s profit-motive has led directly to low and poorly managed – in some cases non-existent – PPE stockpiles, and the absurd situation where PPE is being crowd-sourced from charitable donations. It has also led to resistance to allowing care workers to self-isolate. We need urgent action to ensure all employers have to give workers the right to self-isolate on full pay and adequate access to PPE.
“Please put this motion to your Momentum, union or Labour branch, and call for our members and representatives to come out fighting for this.”
• For more resources and articles on social care, see here.
Motion: Crisis in social care – fight for workers’ rights and public ownership
1. The crisis in social care, with the spread of Covid-19 facilitated by privatisation and fragmentation and the suppression of workers’ terms and conditions.
2. That possibly a majority of care workers get only Statutory Sick Pay, if that, and union organisation is relatively weak, in the face of predatory employers. Workers are under pressure to continue working even in unsafe conditions or if they or someone in their household has symptoms. Some have had to turn to foodbanks to survive.
3. That the Tories have evaded dealing with problems about lack of Personal Protective Equipment and testing, and refused to even address the issue of self-isolation/sick pay.
1. Campaigning by unions on these immediate demands. More campaigning is needed.
2. The new Safe & Equal campaign for the right of all workers to self-isolate on full pay.
3. The initiation of a Care Worker Coronavirus Action Group.
1. Unions and the Labour Party to respond to the crisis by aggressively campaigning for all care workers to get adequate PPE, testing and the right to self-isolate on full pay; by fighting to drive up pay, terms and conditions; and by vocally campaigning for comprehensive public ownership of the sector, both care homes and home care organisations, as a free public service with radically improved funding, standards, pay and conditions and workers’ rights.
2. Councils to follow Salford by ensuring all care workers in their area the right to self-isolate on full pay; and to ensure adequate PPE, testing and medical provision for all care workers.
1. To build links with care workers in our area.
2. To hold an online public meeting and invite speakers from Safe & Equal, the Care Worker Coronavirus Action Group and Reclaim Social Care, which argues for for public ownership.
3. To lobby our council/local councils for the demands set out above.
4. To raise these issues in local Labour Parties.
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