An unprecedented aged care strike across Australia tomorrow (EDS: Tuesday) was the inevitable result of years of neglect of aged care residents and aged care workers, United Workers Union said today.
Workers in six major providers with more than 130 facilities and caring for 11,000 aged care residents will go on strike tomorrow in support of their claims for increased pay and staffing levels, walking off the job ahead of major CBD rallies.
“When aged care workers walk off the job tomorrow they are doing so because they feel they have no option but to take strike action,” Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union said today.
“When the Aged Care Royal Commission released its first report way back in October 2019 it was called ‘Neglect’ because of shocking conditions inside aged care facilities.
“Now more than a year after the final Royal Commission report that was supposed to fix things, aged care workers report conditions inside aged care facilities are the worst they have ever seen.
“More than 1350 people have died of Covid in aged care this year as aged care workers endured bungles with RAT tests, delays with boosters and PPE, and a bonus program mired in red tape.
“Aged care workers have been pushed to do double and triple shifts, facing dire conditions in PPE that one aged care worker described as ‘just like working in a garbage bag with a firehose up it’.
“But Covid was just the latest burden in an aged care system already in crisis.
“Aged care workers report aged care residents are frustrated, upset and humiliated as they wait too long to be showered, too long for soiled pads to be changed and too long, sometimes, even to be fed.
“All this while aged care workers earn some of the lowest wages in Australia.
“I spoke to an aged care worker last week whose hourly rate topped out at $24.89 after working for 20 years as a personal care worker – or an annual salary of just under $49,000.
“She was called three times on Thursday with her employer pleading with her to come in to work on her day off.
“Her salary is so low she works every single weekend so she can pay her mortgage – but as a result can’t see her early-school-age grandson as much as she would like.
“Like many others, she is taking strike action today because she’s sick of providers wringing their hands and blaming the Federal Government.
“Aged care workers are also sick of Scott Morrison and his incompetent aged care services minister blaming everyone else but themselves for an aged care system they should be ashamed of.
“When aged care workers say they are going on strike for their aged care residents, they mean it.
“They are sick of seeing their providers settle for a system where the basic dignity of older Australians has been ignored for too long, and they are taking strike action to do something about it.”
About the strike:
Aged care workers will walk off aged care facilities in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland on Tuesday, with several measures to ensure aged care resident safety:
- Employers have been given a longer notification than the minimum legal requirement about workers’ intention to strike.
- Workers are limiting strike action from 11.30am to 4.30pm – essentially so all lunches can be prepared and aged care workers can return for dinner preparation.