16 January 2014
On Tuesday, (14 January 2014), care workers went on strike outside Glasgow councillors’ offices as part of a two-day industrial action to show their discontent at prolonged hours, and more duties at the same time as a massive pay cut.
Care workers were furious as they were told that they may now have to work longer shifts while suffering at the same time from a 7% pay cut.
The city’s council has tried to justify these unpopular changes by stating that they will replace temporary positions with permanent contracts, providing workers with the opportunity to take more time off.
However, this means that over a quarter of the workforce will suffer from lost wages. As many as 122 full time workers may lose £1,495 a year whilst part-timers may lose up to £794 per year: A colossal amount that will affect the workers greatly.
Unison, which represents the care workers had warned the city council not to “undermine” their workforce by going ahead with such changes.
This will not only affect the workers who are being forced to work more for less money, this will also affect the vulnerable patients with serious needs that are being treated.
Whilst having to take care of their patients the staff will also be expected to take on additional jobs such as dispensing medicine whilst having to accept colossal pay cuts.
By increasing shifts to twelve-and-a-half hours and reducing the staff/resident ratio the standard of care may fall.
Not only will health care standards be lowered for patients it will of course affect workers who are now being told to work very long hours. This could have a direct impact on workers’ health.
Striking care worker Sharon Maloney told the Morning Star about the struggle that workers are currently facing,
“We’re struggling as it is,” she said.
But Ms Maloney added that she was most worried about the longer hours.
“I work night shifts, so working 12 hour shifts during the night isn’t great for your health.”
A council spokesman, however, argued that the council is doing the right thing by providing secure employment rather than zero-hours contracts, which are endemic among care professionals.
Whilst the IER agrees that the rise of zero-hours contracts is a problem, as it does not give any certainty of pay nor work, forcing people to work additional hours whilst reducing pay is a problem as it undermines workers’ rights and could affect their health, as well as that of the people they are attending to.