UNISON will campaign for social care to get the proper funding it deserves and for social care workers to get decent pay and working conditions, support and training. The composite motion also seeks to ensure social care’s equivalence to the NHS in terms of access to services and its status within society.
Lilian Macer, Regional Rep, moved a Scottish amendment highlighting the Fair Work Charter Inquiry into Social Work in Scotland. This Inquiry, co-chaired by Lilian, found that there were over 200,000 workers in Social Care in Scotland – a dedicated workforce in precarious contracts of employment, in which they have little power or influence.
Lilian explained that the Inquiry recommended that the Scottish Government should support a new sector-level body to ensure an effective voice in the social care sector, and that body should establish a minimum Fair Work contract for Social Care, and this would underpin the commissioning of social care services and develop a collective bargaining role.
Lilian told Conference that social care sector bargaining would see “Changes that would put an end to exploiting workers in social care through zero hours contracts and employers expecting staff to work excessively long hours
“We want improvement in how the real Living Wage is being rolled out but also changes that will see women’s skills and labour better valued and rewarded through collectively agreed terms and conditions.
“This report calls on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to bring about a radical overhaul of social care and to use fair work principles to drive high quality services for some of our more vulnerable people.”
She asked why, if the Scottish Government and the Labour Party agree with the principles of Fair Work, have both Labour and SNP governments subjected our most vulnerable in our society to the vagaries of the market whilst overseeing worker wages, terms and conditions driven down.
She urged, “We need to turn this on its head, society and politicians need to value social care as a profession and this highly skilled workforce need to be valued and respected.”
Lilian pointed out that the lack of status and chronic undervaluing of social care is not unconnected to perceptions of care as ‘womens work’ and that the failure to address the gendered dynamics of the care sector contributes significantly to women’s porter quality of work and to the gender pay gap.
She emphasised the importance of driving forward improvements to ensure we make real progress advising the Fair Work Agenda ensuring all public bodies adopt UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter.