Plans are afoot to look at a 'Christmassy' appearance in about 8 weeks. Is there such a word as Christmassy?? Holly and Hammers and Sickles anyone?
Had a busy couple of weeks. I attended 19 disciplinary's in my role as a TU organiser and representative. Is that a record?
Strictly speaking it could be argued that representing members isn't neccessarily organising but there is a strangely satisfying feeling you get when you help a Union member get off from being disciplined.
I work in the Portsmouth area and I seem to be getting a lot of members coming through the door with problems who work in the private care industry. For those who don't know , a private care home is a large semi derelict house , done up by the local bodge the builder and staffed with low paid care workers.
The manager is usually someone rich who woke up with a conscience one day, due to the fact that a distant relative, who he/she never visited anyway, was unfortunate enough to have a disability or a learning difficulty. Its odd that the owner might have come from the rented property industry so have a large collection of ready made bedsits to farm the service users into.
Let me list some common issues that members complain to me about;
- bullying by the manager, usually in the form of completely unreasonable request or by their ignoring of reasonable requests by their employees i.e Holiday requests or sorting out pay problems.
- racial harassment, self explanatory really , with the amount of migrant labour in the industry.
- using POVA as a threat to workers; I have found out that some managers have reported members for swearing in a car park when a severely disabled service user is present!!
- long hours and low pay. So common in the industry it is quickly becoming the norm
- flexible contracts. Members being given rotas or having their rotas changed in a completely unreasonable way with a few hours notice. How can you get single working mums to rearrange their lives and the lives of their kids at the whim of the manager?
I could go on.
A campaign needs to be waged by the Trade Union movement to combat these abuses. We need minimum standards across the industry so that we can hold councils and privateers to account, especially where the common fashion is to outsource care homes privately to the profiteering sharks circling local authorities.
In my view minimum standards should start at
- minimum £7.50 per hour
- 1 month notice for shift/rota changes
- 35 hour week
- Full time contracts, no temporary or accredited agency labour except in emergencies
- Company sick pay from day one of employment
- Robust dignity at work policies.
These amongst other standards should be a condition for a council awarding a contract.
Better still DON'T outsource care work , keep it in house!!
Dignity in care should be just as much for the carers as it is supposed to be for the service user.