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Queensland aged care workers have made an unprecedented commitment to pursue protected strike action if their claims for a decent wage, more care time and more respect are not met by employers.

The commitment – made by more than 40 aged care leaders representing more than 7,000 aged care workers at a meeting in Brisbane last night – marks a dramatic escalation in a national campaign by aged care workers for significant reforms in aged care.

Worker representatives from major aged care facilities across the state – including Blue Care, Southern Cross Care and Churches of Christ – endorsed applying for, and taking, protected strike action in aged care facilities if there were no steps to end the aged care crisis.

“Aged care workers are sick of being crushed by a system that makes it impossible for them to provide the quality of care that older Australians deserve,” Sharron Caddie, director of United Workers Union, said today.

“Workers are being pushed beyond breaking point by understaffing, impossible workloads and the emotional toll of not having enough time or support to provide the quality of care that residents require.

“Aged care workers are also fed up with being ignored by their employers, who have consistently rejected their claims for a meaningful increase in wages and more care time.

“We know exactly what needs to happen to fix this situation. We need appropriate staffing and a workforce that is valued and respected.

“The sad fact is that almost 12 months on from the Royal Commission report, older Australians still do not have access to the level of care required to ensure they can live with safety and dignity.

“The Royal Commission told us older Australians were suffering. Nothing has changed – in fact during Covid things are even worse.”

Ms Caddie said aged care workers recognised there was an opportunity to make fundamental changes in their workplace, and real improvements for those they care for.

“Thousands of workers are bargaining with their employers, there is an election around the corner, and the Aged Care Royal Commission shows how much needs to be done,” Ms Caden said.

“Aged care workers across the country are joining together to fight for better jobs, decent pay and a quality aged care system. Aged care workers are fighting for older Australians to have the dignity and safety they deserve.

“We saw last night that thousands of aged care workers are fighting to change aged care. Aged care urgently needs to be fixed, and aged care workers are taking mass action to fix it.”