Making a difference for care during COVID-19

Across the UK, care workers have faced serious problems while caring for those most vulnerable to coronavirus. But UNISON has been fighting for them – and winning.

During COVID-19, care workers have been caring for those most vulnerable to the virus, while facing the triple whammy of an inadequate government response, unfair conditions and a dysfunctional care system.

But UNISON has been fighting for them – and winning.

Here we share some of those victories.

A care home member in Norfolk contacted UNISON, concerned about a shortage of masks. The union contacted local officials who arranged for 300 masks to be quickly transferred, while supply line issues were also dealt with.

In Scotland, UNISON negotiated with the Scottish government to secure the Scottish Living Wage of £9.30 for social care workers, for all hours worked from 1st April 2020.

In the South West, UNISON negotiated with a care home provider, persuading them to agree to pay full pay for any care staff that needs to self-isolate or go off sick due to COVID-19. This covered 1,200 care workers.

In Leeds, a UNISON rep spotted that staff were being issued with out-of-date face masks. The rep quickly raised the issue with the employer and the face masks were replaced.

In Haringey, north London, members pressured a social care provider to furlough staff if they need to shield, ensuring that staff can follow government health advice without losing pay.

In Barnsley in Yorkshire, a group of workers in a care home contacted UNISON, concerned that residents were being admitted without being tested. The union arranged a virtual meeting and spoke to the care home owner. The issue was resolved and more staff in the care home have now decided to join UNISON.

In the North West, UNISON campaigning has led to nine councils agreeing to ensure that care workers receive full pay during any absence related to COVID-19.

In the New Forest, in southern England, staff at a care home were forbidden by management to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) – even though a resident had died after contracting the new coronavirus. After UNISON made it clear this was unacceptable, the employer relented and staff were given access to PPE.

In Northern Ireland, UNISON pressure led to the health minister committing to improve pay and introduce universal testing for all care home workers.

It’s never been more important to be a member of a union. If you know a care worker, ask them to join us. Care workers need the protection of a union and we’re all stronger together.

Care workers can join online here

And here’s a reminder of the daily fight the union mounted, to get you the PPE you need. And we’re not letting up.