Here we copy an article from The Salford Star on yesterday’s lobby of Salford care workers demanding an end to privatisation.
You can read the original article at http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4951&fbclid=IwAR1mC5YlE1E9YZo8EA8qz5Nd3ffYdjdPXITruWEMEFGN4zzrK_-K8oO5gRs
Last night, over three dozen care workers currently employed by Lifeways lobbied the Salford Labour Group and Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett to demand their service is brought back in-house at the Council when the contract expires at the end of May.
“Care work is a rewarding job, but it is a difficult job and we deserve respect; we are sick of being messed around” says Melissa Thomas, care worker and UNISON representative for Lifeways workers “We want fair and consistent treatment, so we are demanding that Salford Council listen to us and take us back in-house.”
|At the end of May, Lifeways, a private sector care organisation, has stated that it is not renewing its contract with Salford City Council, meaning other private companies will bid to take on the services and the workers.
However, Lifeways staff believe that the Council and Salford CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) which provide the contract should bring the service back into the public sector.
After years of service in the private sector, the care workers are fed up with low wages, poor treatment and lack of investment in the support they deliver to vulnerable people, and last night around forty of them lobbied the Salford Labour Group of councillors, including City Mayor, Paul Dennett, to demand the end to privatisation.
“We are loving, caring staff that are paid the minimum wage to support very vulnerable people – to manage their personal care, help with their finances, provide them with medication and lots more” said Melissa Thomas, care worker and UNISON representative for the Lifeways workers.
“We love what we do, but we are tired of being paid incorrectly and having nobody to help us resolve them problems we face” she explained “Care work is a rewarding job, but it is a difficult job and we deserve respect; we are sick of being messed around. We want fair and consistent treatment, so we are demanding that Salford Council listen to us and take us back in-house.”
Paul Dennett, Gina Reynolds, Lead Member for Adult Services, and other councillors came out to speak to the staff, who were supported by their trade union Salford City UNISON.
Dennett explained the financial difficulties of bringing services in house, but the workers retorted that there would be no assets or buildings for the Council to take on, just the workers themselves. They added that salaries are already paid for by the Council and the NHS, who pay more to their employer than it costs to employ them – allowing the company to make a tidy profit in the process.
Councillor Reynolds explained how decisions over social care are now jointly taken by the Council and the NHS and outlined some issues that the Council has in overseeing the contracts once they are put in place. But Steve North, UNISON Branch Secretary, responded that, if the system does not guarantee local accountability or a place for the workers and users to have a say over their services, the system needs to change.
The only firm commitment was an agreement from the Mayor and his team that they would arrange a follow-up meeting with workers’ representatives within the next couple of weeks to explore these issues further.
“We all know that social care is in crisis” said Steve North “There is no doubt that the main reason for this is the lack of investment across the country and particularly in poorer areas like Salford.
“However, the problem is compounded by fragmentation across multiple private sector providers who put in cheap bids for these contracts and then proceed to make profit by holding down wages, which leads to a high turnover of staff and a lack of consistency and therefore dignity for the people who rely on social care” he added “There is no good reason why these workers should not be working directly for the Council or the NHS. The main expense is the wages and the Council and NHS already effectively pay those through existing contracts anyway. For us this is just a question of political will.”
As far as the workers and UNISON are concerned, no good reason has yet been offered why the services couldn’t return to the public sector and that is what they intend to keep fighting for…