“We cannot wait for the next pandemic to hit:” Workers around the world demand a new deal for the care sector
On 29 October, workers, their unions and civil society allies around the globe will take action to demand investments and decent work in care.
“Care workers cannot wait for the next pandemic to hit. They need safe jobs, acceptable staffing ratios, secure hours and family-sustaining pay now,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “We say that COVID-19 has changed everything, but many of the problems in care have stayed the same—or gotten worse. It’s time to rebuild the care sector to benefit patients, residents and workers alike.”
The annual Global Action Day to #InvestInCare is a joint initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI Global Union, Education International (EI), International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) Public Services International (PSI),and Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO.)
The pandemic has exposed how decades of underinvestment in our health and care systems have severely degraded quality, accessibility, and safety in the sector.
Earlier this year, UNI Global Union´s comprehensive survey of care workers showed that staffing shortages, poverty pay, targeted harassment, and dangerous conditions in the global care system continue to be pervasive. The pandemic has also deepened pre-existing national and global structural inequalities across gender, class and, in many cases, racial and ethnic lines.
Over 30 percent are still without adequate access to PPE, and the percentage is higher in the countries hardest hit by the virus. Sixty-five percent of the workers experienced the death of a co-worker or patient reported no support from employers for anxiety, fear, and other mental health issues associated with their work. More than half of care workers surveyed by UNI said their pay did not provide them with a decent standard of living, meaning they were unable to secure basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation.
This global day of action will draw attention to the urgent need for a re-investment in universal, equitable, quality, public and gender transformative health and care systems for:
· The creation of decent jobs for women and men in the care sector, including access to vocational and lifelong learning;
· Improving pay and working conditions for workers in health, care and education;
· Ensuring availability and accessibility by all to quality public health, care and education services;
· Stimulating sustainable economic and jobs growth; and
· Realising gender equality policies and programmes.
“Care workers around the world need urgent action from governments and employers to put life at the centre of care. That means safe jobs and jobs that can sustain a family. On October 29 and beyond we are seeing a broad coalition—workers, investors, patient advocates—come together for change,” said Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNI Global Union´s Care sector.