Even if the worst of the pandemic has passed, the extraordinary pressure and long-standing problems in care exacerbated by Covid-19 remain—and need to be urgently addressed.
That is why UNI Global Union is joining the international labour movement on 29 October to demand Investments and Decent Work in Care. The annual global action day for care is a joint initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI, Education International (EI), International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), Public Services International (PSI) and Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).
UNI’s Care sector has been a leading force to advance care workers’ rights around the world, and on this day of action, the union federation will draw attention to the urgent need for public investment in the care system, with an emphasis on protecting worker mental health, combatting burnout and increasing the working conditions.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than half of health workers report symptoms of burnout, and many are contending with insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health challenges.
Some of the key factors driving burnout amongst healthcare workers, include: stressful work environments, inappropriate staffing levels, feelings of replaceability and lack of support from a managerial or an organizational level. Women, young people and parents of dependent children were found to be at greater risk of psychological distress.
“Investing in care means making sure that the workers are cared for. It means that they must have safe jobs, adequate staffing levels and a real say in their working conditions,” says Adrian Durtschi, Head of Care at UNI. “We’ve talked a lot about the necessity of adequate PPE during the pandemic, and we cannot ignore the necessity of adequate mental health support for care workers who have endured so much.”
UNI’s global, post-pandemic survey of care workers showed 65 percent of workers who 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.
UNI is demanding immediate action to ensure better support and conditions for care workers.
“Our communities and countries must invest in care and invest in the health of caregivers,” said Durtschi. “To start, workers need decent pay, better staffing ratios and union representation.”