An organising strategy for the Social Care workforce

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2017 National Delegate Conference
8 February 2017
Carried as Amended

Social care plays a vital and growing role in our society. Yet increasing demand, falling real terms funding, and increasingly complex care needs has put the sector under significant strain.

Social Care workers are often the people who are at the sharp end following cuts in public services elsewhere – dealing with clients who cannot be admitted to hospital, or are discharged too soon, who are at home waiting for care assessments.

Most care workers are highly committed to the work they do, but such conditions are putting them under significant strain. If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our ageing population and treat recipients in a dignified way, then we need to invest in the workforce that provides it.

Conference welcomes the work done in Scotland by trade unions, working with the Scottish Government, to develop a ‘Fair Work’ agenda which has included a commitment to pay the Living Wage to all workers providing social care and ensure that a range of workforce matters are included in procurement.

Conference applauds the work around the Ethical Care Charter and welcomes the decisions of councils to sign up to it.

Conference recognises that social care workers are an under pressure and growing section of the public service workforce. Conference acknowledges that there are significant challenges to organising this group of workers; they are often widely scattered, or lone workers and they may be subject to zero or nominal hour’s contracts. Workers doing the same job, for the same contracting authority, may be divided amongst several employers on widely varying terms and conditions. Many will also be required to meet stringent regulatory standards for the first time.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Executive Council to develop a specific organising strategy for the social care workforce. This should consist of a recruitment strategy aimed at increasing UNISON’s presence amongst social care workers and a learning and organising strategy aimed at supporting members in expanding roles and in meeting regulatory requirements.