The National Care Service must put people before profit

#STUC22 Serious concerns about the proposals for the National Care Service in Scotland were highlighted at STUC Congress as delegates backed a series of four motions calling for measures to protect and promote staff terms and conditions as well as improving services.

Delegates supported UNISON’s call for a rethink on proposals to transfer children and families social work services out of local authorities; and demanded national collective bargaining as a founding principle of a National Care Service. Congress also demanded an explicit commitment by the Scottish Government to exclude offshore and tax haven owned businesses from bidding for contracts to provide care.

Moving UNISON’s motion, Convener Lilian Macer pointed out that the crisis in care existed long before the COVID pandemic, “a crisis resulting in privatisation, in underfunding and the failure of the market based system that puts profit before people, profit before workers, and profit before service users.”

Lilian demanded that the profit motive be removed from care and called for the implementation of the Feeley recommendations and the Fair Work Inquiry report for sectoral bargaining in social care.

She condemned as “simply unbelievable” the decision to outsource the design of the National Care Service to two of the “big 4” accountancy firms, “whose business is to boost profits of private providers by aiding and abetting tax avoidance and evasion.”

Lilian called for the National Care Service to be co-designed with service users and care workers, with aspirations for a service that is publicly funded, publicly run and delivered and that values and rewards its workforce with fair pay, equal treatment and the right to trade union membership and recognition.

“Our health and social care system is not just a service but the centre piece of local economies. Investing in these public services should be part of our economic recovery from COVID,” said Lilian, calling for dignity and respect for all those who receive care and for all those who work in the care system.

“There is an opportunity to address the problems in our social care system NOW, to improve the experience of those who rely on the service and those who deliver these vital services in our communities.