Highlighting the perpetually precarious working conditions, understaffing, and low pay that nursing homes workers are forced to endure globally, labour unions from all over the world are joining forces on October 1st to demand a #ShieldAgainstCOVID19 to improve the care sector and protect the elder.
“Today nursing home workers and their unions from every corner of the planet are rising their voices to demand dignity on the job and the tools and resources to build a #ShieldAgainstCOVID19,” said Christy Hoffman General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “We have seen first-hand how the coronavirus is sweeping through nursing homes, killing residents at unprecedented rates and infecting caregivers too. It is heartbreaking and frustrating, but we know that we can do better at keeping them safe if caregivers have the right tools and support. Governments and employers around the world now have an opportunity to improve working conditions in long-term care by partnering with care unions and instilling a new level of humanity and dignity to the sector.”
The list of grievances and structural deficiencies in the long-term care sector is long and overwhelming –and in the time of COVID-19, the problems have been magnified by the tragic human toll caused by the most devastating health crisis in a century. As the pandemic continues to have a devastating impact in the health of the population and the global economy, care workers are demanding improved working conditions for nursing home workers with decent pay, better staffing, safe workplaces, and union representation.
#ShieldAgainstCOVID19 needs good working conditions
Staffing levels, in many countries, are not high enough to provide high-quality care—especially during a pandemic where more attention and detailed care is needed. But as we have experienced during the COVID19 pandemic, unionized can make a difference. The latest study on the issue conducted in New York shows that unionized care centers had a staggering 30 percent lower mortality compare to facilities without health care worker unions. Long-term care centers with union staff tend to have more workers who are better trained and higher pay. Unions also demand more access to protective equipment and stronger infection prevention protocols. And we have known for quite some time that higher staffing rates result in better quality of care for residents and a more positive working environment which reduces burnout, stabilizes the workforce, and saves money in the long term.
Investment in care needed
“More government investment is needed to make necessary improvements to the care industry. Unfortunately, on the heels of one of the largest bailout packages in the EU and the U.S., we saw no direct funding for care. That is one reason why unions play a key role right now in raising standards in care, and during the COVID-19 crisis, some are already making progress. To be better prepared for the now seemingly inevitable second wave, we´ll need to put life at the center of care work, protect care workers, and set new standards across the sector,” said Hoffman.