By Jade Ritchie, Leicester Socialist Alternative
As of May 14, 216 health, care and NHS workers have died from covid-19, according to a report by Keep Our NHS Public. One week on and the number is certainly more, with many not yet accounted for.
This is the context in which bosses at Leicestershire County Care Ltd decided to attack the terms and conditions of 98 of their heroic care workers. Workers are being threatened with massive cuts or even redundancies if they refuse to accept new contracts.
Staff in 13 of Leicestershire's care homes are facing:
A pay cut of up to 30%
Two weeks less holiday
No sick pay
No maternity benefits
Failure to sign new contracts could lead to dismissal, putting Leicestershire’s vulnerable care home residents at serious risk.
Tom Barker, Secretary of Save Our NHS Leicestershire and Socialist Alternative member, spoke to us in a personal capacity:
“Care workers do some of the most important work in society, yet they are often the lowest paid and most undervalued. The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the vital role they play. “Leicestershire County Care’s (LCC) attacks on their workers is nothing short of a scandal. Care workers are literally putting themselves in danger to protect us and the most vulnerable. “If LCC cannot afford to pay their staff, then they should open their books to prove it. If there really is no money, the county council must intervene – taking the homes under the democratic control of the local authority.”
At the beginning of April, Save Our NHS Leicestershire initiated a campaign to reach out to care workers fighting on the frontline of the pandemic. As Tom explains:
“We were approached by care workers who were scared to speak out because of bullying bosses. Some claimed that their concerns about adequate safety measures were being ignored, with management refusing to follow official advice on how to stop the spread of the virus. “Perhaps most disturbing, we also heard from workers at covid-19-free residential care homes being told to take patients with covid-19 symptoms or recovering from the virus (but still infected) without adequate safety measures being taken. “Our campaign intervened successfully to help the workers organise to ensure safe conditions at work. “But the callousness of Leicestershire County Care bosses is on another level.”
Care workers are putting their lives on the line for us. Now they need our support.
East Midlands Unison has asked that complaints are raised with the CEO of Leicestershire County Care Ltd: Davie Vive, at 57-59 Avenue Road, Westcliff on Sea, SS0 7PJ
Write to Nicholas Rushton, leader of the County Council who commission the homes and previously owned and operated nine of the homes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to Peter Souslby, Leicester City Mayor: email@example.com
Please also sign the petition here: https://action.unison.org.uk/page/61135/petition/1
This crisis has exposed a care sector and NHS which is drastically underfunded. Socialist Alternative calls for:
The immediate transfer of home and residential care back to the public sector
Proper public funding to end the scandal of the vulnerable and sick being ripped of by the private sector
A decent living wage for all carers
Free care for all those assessed of being in need at the point of delivery
Read our report on the care crisis here: https://www.socialistalternative.net/post/covid-19-social-care-crisis