Today, UNISON is taking it’s biggest ever homecare legal case on behalf of seven members employed across the London Borough of Haringey.
They’re taking care company Sevacare and the council to court because they haven’t been getting paid the minimum wage for their work. In some cases they’ve received as little as £3.27 – half of the minimum wage – for their work, with some working seven days a week on zero hours contracts.
What kind of way is this to run a decent and compassionate care service?
Without the dedication of these committed and dedicated carers, and thousands of others like them across the UK, our care system would collapse.
The government, local councils and the care companies all know that social care is in a dire state, that there’s not enough money to pay for the care that’s needed. And with everyone living longer the situation is going to get worse.
The blame for the social care crisis must be laid at the government’s door. Ministers must get tougher with enforcing the law so firms aren’t able to cheat their staff. More money must be put into care so that councils are not forced to tender contracts at a price they know means decent care cannot be delivered.
No wonder 15-minute care visits are now the norm, and there’s widespread payment of illegal wages.
Those paying the price for the government’s penny-pinching approach are the homecare workers – struggling to make ends meet on pitiful wages – and the people they care for.
Their often complex-medical needs simply cannot be catered for within the short time allocated by the care companies.
Meanwhile, the companies are coining it in. Last year Sevacare’s profits were over £1m, yet bosses thought it acceptable to pay its staff illegal poverty wages.
Unfortunately, this sorry state of affairs is not unique to Haringey. Up and down the UK, the experience of other home care workers is depressingly similar.
That’s why UNISON is stepping up its efforts to recruit care workers so we can help them stand up to their law-breaking employers and put a stop to these despicable practices.
And it’s why we’ll fight this court case every step of the way.