Careworkers: Cannon fodder to the coronavirus?

It is well known by anyone who has ever worked in, or been around the social care system, how much employers in that sector try to exploit their staff and just how badly they treat them. Care workers have long felt they are viewed in low regard by both local authorities and the government, until recently being described by both local and national politicians as being ‘low skilled’. This has started to make headlines in the national press and get into the public consciousness and never has it been more apparent than during the current coronavirus crisis, where employers have shown a complete disregard for the safety of not only their workers, but also for the people who use their services.

Care Worker Organising in a Pandemic

Care Worker Organising in a Pandemic

Care workers right now are facing a huge challenge. We were overworked, at risk and underpaid before Covid-19 came along. A lot of us are facing massive upheaval in our work and personal lives. Lockdown is stopping us from seeing our friends, family and colleagues, and the demands now placed on the NHS, care homes and other workplaces have increased and changed rapidly. So now more than ever we are asking, what can we do?

What are we facing?

Some of the issues we are facing are new, and some are old problems exacerbated by the current crisis. The first one we are going to look at is the most common and well known right now.

PPE

Care Worker Organising in a Pandemic

Care Worker Organising in a Pandemic

Care workers right now are facing a huge challenge. We were overworked, at risk and underpaid before Covid-19 came along. A lot of us are facing massive upheaval in our work and personal lives. Lockdown is stopping us from seeing our friends, family and colleagues, and the demands now placed on the NHS, care homes and other workplaces have increased and changed rapidly. So now more than ever we are asking, what can we do?

What are we facing?

Some of the issues we are facing are new, and some are old problems exacerbated by the current crisis. The first one we are going to look at is the most common and well known right now.

PPE

Donning and Doffing - on the front lines

Mask on, seal over the nose to stop glasses misting up so much. Apron on (always easier with gloves on), feels flimsy especially in the wind, doesn’t feel like it will protect much. Visor on or is the patient low risk? How many more times am I going to put this all on?The beginning of shift routine is to check if we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This involves checking stores, asking managers, raiding dormant ambulances. As relief staff (not on a fixed shift pattern) you go to different stations. Each station has differing policies; some have personal issue PPE, some are ambulance specific. As relief you end up pilfering PPE to protect yourself as you might end up without.

Latest Update 80% wages Governments Job Retention Scheme

There has been some confusion as to which groups of workers can be placed on furlough under the government’s 80% of wages JoB Retention Scheme. For example, we have had reports of workers who have been instructed to isolate themselves for 12 weeks, due to underlying health conditions, being told that they are only entitled to SSP rather than being placed on furlough.  The government has now made clear who can be placed on furlough under the job retention scheme.

As well as those who have been laid off, the following groups of workers can be furloughed and receive 80% of their pay under the scheme:

Shielding Employees

employees who are shielding themselves for 12 weeks in line with public health guidance.

Caring for someone who is shielding

If you need to stay at home with someone who is shielding you can claim under the scheme.

Pub Invest Group workers fight back: No redundancies for COVID-19!

A week after the closure of all hospitality business, the workers of Pub Invest Group from Liverpool got bad news.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were not able to give any hours to their workers as they don’t have the resources to cover their staff wages. They did, however, wish the best luck to all their workforce and to see them back soon when they open again.

Pub Invest Groups owns some of the most popular night pubs in the central area of Liverpool such as Einsteins, Moloko or McCooley’s. As it is common in the hospitality industry, they show their appreciation for their staff with low-pay and job insecurity.
During the Coronavirus crisis, we are having the chance of seeing this in many places. Although the Government is offering the coverage of wages through the Job Retention Scheme, some employers just prefer to get rid of people.

The New Rates for the National Minimum Wage from April 2020

All the details of the new national minimum wage, who is covered and how it should be
applied, is set out below. The National Minimum Wage remains pathetically low. The only
thing the National Minimum Wage actually guarantees is that those forced to live off them will
be trapped in a life of permanent poverty. The current coronavirus crisis has shown just how
critical minimum wage workers are to the economy and keeping people safe.

Millions of workers on poverty pay, in the likes care homes, supermarkets and the NHS, are risking their
health to keep society functioning. Once the crisis is passed gross inequality must come to an
end. But that will only come about by people getting organised and fighting back.

Close Down All Non-Essential Industries Now

It is clear that the government is trying to protect the UK economy even if this results in more people dying as a result of coronavirus. At the time of writing, whole swathes of the economy are still operating, putting lives at risk. It is now obvious that, in order to stop the spread of the virus, only those sectors of the economy essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of society should remain open. Yet the government is refusing to shut down large sections of the economy such as online shopping.

Coronavirus Crisis: The Government has produced more information in regards to the 80% of wages Jobs Retention Scheme including how pay will be calculated. Here are some of the details:

HOW THE SCHEME WORKS

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

Your employer could pay 80% of your wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE

Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. The scheme does not apply to the self-employed.

Under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme you will receive 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month. Below is the latest update on how the scheme will work.

The situation is changing all the time but as far as we are aware the following is correct as we understand it as of Wednesday 23rd March.

Which companies are eligible under the scheme? All UK businesses are eligible, including charitable, non-profit, public sector, local authorities and so on.

Which workers are eligible? All workers on P.A.Y.E will qualify for 80% of their earnings. This is likely to include most workers, apart from the self-employed who have yet to receive any real support from the government.