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Aged care workers nationally will this week formally lodge applications that mark a major step towards taking protected strike action in the push for fundamental changes to their pay and conditions.

The aged care facilities covered by the applications provide care to more than 10,000 aged care residents – including more than 5000 in Queensland, 2000 in South Australia and 3400 in Western Australia.

The applications for Protected Action Ballots to be lodged cover major aged care providers in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia that employ more than 13,000 aged care workers across more than 120 facilities.

In Queensland, workers at aged care facilities BlueCare and Churches of Christ – with more than 7000 employees in more than 60 aged care facilities – will be among those to vote on the right to take protected strike action.

In SA, workers at aged care providers Southern Cross Care and Anglicare – with about 1700 employees in more than 20 aged care facilities – will be among those to vote.

And in WA, workers at aged care providers Aegis and Regis – with more than 3000 employees in more than 36 aged care facilities – will be among those to vote.

“Thousands of aged care workers across the country will be voting for the right to take protected strike action if their claims for better pay, better conditions and more time to care are not met,” Carolyn Smith, National Aged Care Director, United Workers Union, said today.

“Aged care workers are being pushed to take unprecedented industrial action because of pay and conditions that are failing workers and failing residents.

“When aged care workers vote on these Protected Action Ballots they will be thinking about the way their employers – and the Federal Government – completely failed them during the Omicron wave.

“Aged care workers have been pushed to 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.

“The terrible 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.”

Qld aged care worker Joseph says: “Enough is enough! Workers, residents and families deserve much, much more. Our time is now! I endorse taking action to be respected with a wage that reflects the vital nature of our work.”

SA aged care worker Suzana says: “I’m endorsing action because it’s the only way we can get the staff residents need, pay that reflects the important job we do, and respect.”

WA aged care worker Margaret says: “I’m endorsing industrial action because we need a pay rise. The pay does not match the work we do, and we need more staff.”