NEC hears of shocking conditions imposed on migrant care workers

The meeting also agreed a statement condemning the resumption of violence in Gaza and calling for an immediate ceasefire

UNISON centre sign

Meeting in London and online yesterday, UNISON’s national executive council (NEC) condemned the resumption of violence in Gaza and repeated the union’s call for an immediate ceasefire.

General secretary Christina McAnea and president Libby Nolan told the meeting how emotional they had found addressing some of the recent peace rallies. They stressed how important it was to explain the union’s position on the war in the Middle East.

The NEC discussed and agreed a new statement on the Gaza-Israel conflict.

Elsewhere, the general secretary updated the NEC on various pay disputes across the UK. Ms McAnea said it was “utterly shocking” that health members in Northern Ireland still hadn’t received a pay deal – a situation that was affecting every union with members working in health.

She also noted that school members in Northern Ireland were currently taking action and that members in Scotland had received a revised offer for local government members which they had accepted. “Colleagues in Scotland did a very good job of getting an improved offer for members,” noted the general secretary.

On the ongoing Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign, Ms McAnea noted it was “going from strength to strength”.

She said: “It was utterly inspiring to meet members who have never been that active before. The campaign has resulted in fantastic sign-up from non-members who perhaps feel for the first time that the union is speaking up for them.

“Members are taking the action and are leading the campaign,” she added.

The meeting also covered the recent publishing of UNISON’s report Expendable Labour. It details the shocking conditions that migrant workers are forced into when they are encouraged to come to the UK to work in social care.

They heard that migrant social care workers are propping up social care but are being exploited by employers and that the government could step in and help, but instead they’ve taken to demonising them.

The general secretary told the meeting: “It was a complete knee-jerk reaction to appease the Tory party’s right-wing backbenchers and they’re completely obsessed with this policy.

Ms McAnea said the union was getting calls from members who are worried. “It’s all very unclear at the moment – but this will have a massive knock-on effect in health and social care as there’s a global shortage of care staff.”

Finally, the NEC heard that the recent declaration of bankruptcy from Nottingham council would not be the last as local government “was the sector hit the hardest by the current government’s policies of the last 13 years” and that the union’s equal pay campaign was continuing across the country.