Social care: rise to the challenge!

Submitted by AWL on 28 April, 2020 - 11:58 Author: Sacha Ismail
Doncaster care workers on strike

“Me and my colleagues in care work are risking our lives for just over £8 an hour… Whether it’s PPE shortages, faulty tests, or low sick pay, key workers are treated like collateral”
Nadia Whittome MP (who has returned to her old job during the crisis)

“The big challenge is not to go for the lowest common denominator but be far more ambitious … It’s obvious what the problems are, but the question is can the labour movement take the initiative with radical solutions? ... The care sector highlights the problems we face, unable to deliver decent standards for the people it looks after or for the huge number of workers it employs. If we don’t campaign for public ownership and strict standards across the sector we are simply not rising to the challenge”
Maria Exall, Labour Unions Vice-Chair

The mainstream media has extensively covered the raging crisis in social care – unsurprisingly, with thousands of care home residents dead as a result of Covid-19. It has barely touched on how devastation of the sector and its workforce by capitalism has facilitated the spread of the virus. The socialist left must push this reality to the centre of the discussion, and offer clear, radical solutions.

Before the crisis, the labour movement inattention to the chronic problems and important struggles in social care – and we include ourselves in that – was a serious failing. Now, in the pandemic, it should be abundantly clear that this sector is at the cutting edge of the class struggle, both in terms of workers’ rights and standing up for the vulnerable. We must step up.

What you can do:

• Educate yourself. Read our briefing on the issues in social care and why we must fight for workers’ rights and comprehensive public ownership. See also articles and resources on The Clarion website.
• Educate others. Integrate arguments about the centrality of workers’ rights and the need for public ownership into your day-to-day discussions and organising. Organise an online discussion.
• Build links with care workers and service-users. There are care workers’ and service-users’ organisations linked in the briefing you or your union branch, Labour Party or activist group can contact. Contact your local Unison, GMB and Unite branches and see if they organise care workers. Support care workers’ and service-users’ struggles; learn from them; find ways to raise their issues in the labour movement and the community.
• Raise clear demands in the labour movement. For a model motion demanding workers’ rights and public ownership, see here. Get your union branch or Labour Party to host a discussion. Our briefing links to a range of campaigns and initiatives who supply speakers.
• Pressure your council. Demand it does what Salford has done and ensures all care workers in its area can self-isolate on full pay (here); and that it takes action to ensure adequate PPE and testing. Get your Labour Party or union branch to take this up.

For help with any of this, or if you’d like to help us campaign, get in touch: awl@workersliberty.org

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