‘Tackle the crisis in care homes – support national bargaining’ UNISON Scotland urges MSPs  

MSPs have rejected changing the law to improve conditions in a way that could be used to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Scotland’s care homes.

An amendment to the Coronavirus (Scotland) No2 Bill proposing national bargaining for the care home sector has been rejected by MSPs at Stage 2 of the Bill. UNISON is urging MSPs to support the proposals when the Bill returns for its third and final stage tomorrow (Wednesday 20 May).

This proposal would have allowed common standards in terms and conditions to be put in place across the care home sector, tackling many of the staffing problems that have contributed to the crisis. The sector is rife with low pay, zero hour contracts, lack of sick pay provision and as a consequence struggles to recruit and retain staff.

Mike Kirby,  UNISON Scottish secretary said: “This is bitterly disappointing setback in tackling the crisis in our care homes.  The Scottish Government have acknowledged that the care home system is broken. If existing arrangements were functioning – we wouldn’t be enduring a lethal staffing crisis in care homes. The Scottish Government propose only talks at some point on the future, but it is immediate action that is required by this vital, but poorly paid, badly treated workforce.

The Scottish Government veiw that national barganing for care homes is not practical is unacceptable. If recent weeks have shown us anything – it is that governments must take the right decisions regardless of how difficult they might be to implement. And national barganinig is vitally important for improving standards in care homes. We can all deal with the practicalities as they arise.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 20 May) MSPs have another chance to support this workforce and improve standards in care homes – we urge all of them to do so.”

Notes for editors

The proposals for national bargaining across the care home sector was proposed by Neil Findlay MSP as an amendment to the Cornonavirus (Scotland) No2 Bill as part of the Stage 2 consideration by the Covid 19 committee. Mike Russell opposed the move on behalf of the Scottish Government and it was voted down by SNP and conservative MSPs. It will be put to the whole parliament as part of the 3rd stage proposals on Wednesday 20 May.

UNISON is the largest trade union in care sector, the largest trade union in Scotland and the UK.

UNISON Contact:

Stephen Low, policy officer: 07956 852822

Danny Phillips, communications officer: 07944 664110