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Safe & Equal organising meeting with John McDonnell MP and careworkers (Tues 12 May 7pm)

👉Join our organising meeting this Tuesday, 7pm, with John McDonnell MP and trade unionists from a wide range of sectors to plan the way forward.

REGISTER HERE: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcocuyprT4oE9Gh4mSBcWHAIRUPeUcmsUj3?fbclid=IwAR0ZS6AOF4wfYglZ3sUIvDc3MS1OGh3VMv27ofKi1OHH8UB_SOz6ehAWLYM

https://facebook.com/events/s/safe-and-equal-organising-meet/266480521169897/

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Six demands for home & social care workers

1. Full pay for all self isolation
2. PPE for all staff
3. More uniforms
4. Clear advice and procedures
5. Increased flexibility and leave
6. Right to join a union and have a say

  1. Full pay for all self isolation, including for those with Covid19 symptoms, family with suspected Covid19 or due to underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus according to government advice.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment to be provided to all staff suitable to their role, at least gloves, aprons, face mask and goggles or face mask with visors.
  3. Increased supplies of Uniform and expenses for increased uniform washing.
  4. Clear advice on Covid19 and the procedures for keeping themselves and clients safe. Including on PPE, social distancing and cleaning and on how to care for those with Covid19.
  5. Increased flexibility and special leave provision for staff who are having to deal with additional childcare or family illness during this crisis.
  6. Involvement in decisions on processes and procedures relating to Covid-19. The ability to communicate with fellow workers and the right to be part of a trade union.

Pay when self-isolating: why one standard for the NHS and another for social care?

The NHS says it is essential for safety that workers who need to self-isolate receive full pay, so they are not under financial pressure to work unsafely. Why on earth does this not apply to the care sector, where Covid-19 is running rampant?

NHS employers’ guidelines on staff terms and conditions say “it is essential for infection control purposes that staff members who are told to self-isolate… should receive full pay whilst in self-isolation. This includes bank staff and sub-contractors, who have to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties.”

NHS England has written to health service chief executives to insist on this. There seems to be a hole in the policy in terms of agency staff, in that no earnings from agency shifts count towards ‘full pay’, and agencies are instead urged to not provide staff who have been advised to self-isolate. And there is always the issue of whether the policy is being implemented on the ground, which requires strong action from trade unions and workers.

Nonetheless the policy is pretty clear. The situation in social care could not be more different.

The GMB and Unison are the two main unions with members among care workers. Research by the GMB last year found that of 795,000 carers working in the private sector, 55pc are not entitled to anything better than Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 a week. Some of those, nominally self-employed or earning less than £120 a week, will not even get that. Research for the North West region of Unison found that 8 out of 10 care workers do not expect to be paid their wages if they have to self-isolate.

This situation could almost have been designed to prevent proper infection control.

Salford council has taken action to ensure all care workers in its area receive full pay when self-isolating. That is good and other councils should do the same. But the scale of the problem requires national action, by the government.

The Tories have waffled and evaded their responsibility for serious policies to ensure adequate PPE and testing. They have refused to even address the question of sick pay and pay during self-isolation. It is an utter scandal.

The situation in social care is a result of the privatisation of the sector and the driving down of workers’ terms and condition it has produced. That whole framework of social care needs to be changed, with public ownership, proper coordination planning and democratic control. But immediately we need to insist on much stronger workers’ rights, and first of all basic measures to ensure workers’ safety in the face of Covid-19. Proper sick pay should be top of the list.

North West Unison branches and Labour Councils lead the way in victories for careworkers

An absolutely HUGE week of wins for care workers across the North West! ✊✊

From campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/CareworkersvsCOVID19/

✅ Knowsley Council confirms pay rise for social care workers to the real Living Wage of £9.30p/h and additional sick pay support for care workers during Coronavirus crisis

✅ Liverpool Council confirm a £6m investment to ensure all social care workers get full sick pay and support

✅ Wirral Council gives care workers pay rise to the real Living Wage of at least £9.30 p/h for the next 6 months.

✅ Trafford Council sign up to Care Workers vs Covid-19 pledge to support care workers with proper sick pay, PPE and more.

✅ Halton Council signs the Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge.

✅ Sefton Council signs the Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge.

✅ Salford Council commits to pay all care workers proper sick pay during the Coronavirus crisis and to cover financial loss.

This is proof that when care workers come together and fight for what’s right we can win! 💪 Social care work is a vital public service and it should be funded, respected and valued – not just now but for good.❓ Is your council not on the list? Will you campaign in your local area for them sign up to our demands around PPE, sick pay, the real Living Wage and more❓Sign up and get involved 👉https://action.unison.org.uk/page/58242/petition/1

Merseyside care workers win full pay to self isolate or if sick with Covid-19

Sefton Council joined Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral and Halton’s local authorities to back trade union UNISON’s ‘Care Workers vs COVID-19’ campaign after hundreds of carers shared their ‘coronavirus horror stories.’

Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Council have both announced that they will pour money into local care services, (£6m and £2m respectively) in order to ensure that care workers who need to self-isolate, shield or take days off sick due to COVID-19 will be paid full normal pay, rather than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £95 per week.

Meanwhile, Halton and Sefton Councils have both signed up to UNISON’s Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge- committing them to protect the health, pay and employment of care workers, whilst Wirral Council have committed to give local care workers a pay rise to the real Living Wage of at least £9.30 per hour.

Full article:

https://www.champnews.com/story.asp?id=GN4_ART_1671221

Government fails on PPE in social care

The government is advising on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through Public Health England (PHE). Currently their advise for carers working in the community can be found here:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878750/T2_poster_Recommended_PPE_for_primary__outpatient__community_and_social_care_by_setting.pdf
All the government advise on PPE is here
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe
P
HE’s latest advise says that anyone working with vulnerable clients/ patients/ residents, (ie those over 70 or with underlying health conditions) where it is not possible to maintain social distance of 2m should wear level 2 PPE. This is a surgical mask, goggles or a visor ( where moisture droplets may be present, ie any personalised care), an apron and gloves. This is the case whether the person has symptoms of Covid 19 or not.This PPE is single session use. In no circumstances should it be washed or steamed to use again. Surgical masks should be worn only until they become damp from wearing and, as long as they are put on and taken off safely, in home care should not be used for multiple visits. PPE should be put on and taken off according to guidance, which you should be trained in. Information on this can be found here:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878677/PHE_11606_Putting_on_PPE_062_revised_8_April.pdf
And here
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878678/PHE_11606_Taking_off_PPE_064_revised_8_April.pdf
The problem with PHE guidance is that it is partly based on availability, not just on what protects workers most effectively. It is obvious that the planning for provision of PPE across the health and care sector by the government has been completely inadequate. The possibility of a pandemic was predicted clearly for years. PPE should have been stockpiled for when it was needed.  Instead we have seen inadequate supplies and chaotic distribution. The care sector has been completely neglected.
Many community organisations have been producing PPE, for example see https://www.facebook.com/1564445477106014/posts/2519516614932224/

Nobody can be surprised that workers are gladly accepting these offers of support from their communities. It is a scandal that this has had to happen and workers have had to rely on community produced safety equipment that are in many cases not fully health and safety checked.
When it became obvious that supplies were in adequate the government should have taken over factories and businesses capable of producing PPE, for example from the clothes retail sector and put them to socially useful manufacture. Even now we demand the government does this to vastly increase supply. 

Social Care: for full public ownership (updated)

In the week up to 10 April, according to the Office of National Statistics, 1,043 care home residents died as a result of Covid-19 – leaping from 217 the week before. Then over the Easter weekend (11-15 April), according to the Care Quality Commission, that may have doubled again to about 2,000.

Before those figures, Care England, which represents care homes across the country, estimated that around 7,500 residents had died from the virus – five times the government’s 1,400 figure and adding to the total (official) number of deaths by almost half. National Records of Scotland has suggested that a third of deaths there have been in care homes.

There are many care homes where dozens of people have died, some where the dead constitute a significant minority of residents and, in a few cases, a majority.

Problems with availability of and access to Personal Protective Equipment and testing for workers are well-known. And there is increasing concern and anger about the perhaps equally important issue of sick pay and the right to self-isolate. Something like half a million care workers get only Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 a week – or not even that, if they earn less than £120 a week or are nominally self-employed.

At the government’s daily briefing on 16 April, Business Secretary Alok Sharma repeatedly refused to even answer a question about this, attempting to fob it off by uttering the word “Heroes” over and over (see the video put up by Safe and Equal, which campaigns for the right of workers to self-isolate on full pay, at bit.ly/aloksharmvideotw).

In these circumstances, many workers are under enormous financial pressure to continue working even when they or someone in their household has symptoms. Some care workers have turned to food banks in their determination to self-isolate.

This factor alone makes it little wonder that Covid-19 is spreading like wildfire in care homes. This horrible situation and the Tories’ determination to avoid any significant action to change it are severely exacerbating the threats to very large numbers of care workers, even larger numbers of those they care for, and the general public.

Read full article here: https://www.workersliberty.org/story/2020-04-19/social-care-crisis-fight-public-ownership

Safe and Equal

Facebook: https://bit.ly/aloksharmavideofb

Twitter: https://bit.ly/aloksharmavideotw

The Safe & Equal campaign for the right of all workers to self-isolate on full pay is pressuring the govt over their shameful refusal to deal with the fact many care workers only get statutory sick pay – which Alok Sharma refused to answer at yesterday’s briefing. Please watch, share, retweet, get involved.

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