Care and Support Workers Organise! (CaSWO!) is a group of care and support workers who are campaigning for social support services which are fit for purpose for care workers and those they support. We demand dignified working conditions that recognise and properly value the skilled work and compassion of social care workers.
We were formed at the start of the pandemic following the PPE crisis which left UK care workers vulnerable and abandoned by the Tory government in the face of a global health crisis where we were scared for our own safety and those who we support.
We are a national group and have supporters across the UK. We believe in collective action, are active members of our Trade Unions and know that our families, friends and those who require services see the value of our work even if ‘our’ government does not.
Over 1,500 NHS and care workers have died during the pandemic. We have needlessly lost the lives of both colleagues and those we support. Enough is enough. Now is the time to organise.
- Care workers in the UK are paid on average less than cleaners, shop assistants and health care assistants in the NHS. Three quarters of England’s care workers earn below the ‘real’ living wage.
- Uncompetitive levels of pay also have an impact on staff turnover. Nearly one in three social care staff (30.4 per cent) leaves their job during the course of the year, equivalent to 430,000 people. For care workers in the home care sector, the figure is closer to one in two.
- The vacancy rate is an important indicator of providers’ capacity to deliver social care services. The vacancy rate is currently at 7.2 per cent with 112,000 outstanding vacancies.
- The sector lacks career structure and does not benefit from National Pay Scales. Care workers with five or more years experience are only paid on average 15p an hour more than new entrants to the sector.
Investment is Needed: A Care Led Recovery
The Women’s Budget Group note in their report ‘A Care Led Recovery’ investment in the care system makes economic sense following the pandemic:
Economic Recovery – Investment in care is not only needed to transform our broken social care system, it is an excellent way to stimulate employment, reduce the gender employment gap and counter the inevitable economic recession as the UK comes out of lockdown.
Gender Equality – Any investment in care in the UK would produce 2.7 times as many jobs as an equivalent investment in construction: 6.3 times as many jobs for women and 10% more for men.
Care jobs are Green Jobs – Investment in care is greener than in construction and more of its costs would be recouped in increased income tax and National Insurance contributions.
Supportive Society – Investing in care is economically sound not only because it generates employment but also because it helps create a healthier, better educated and more productive population.
- Social care is in crisis and these problems were present long before the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. A radical transformation is needed.
- Thousands in our communities continue to be left with inadequate care and with their basic needs unmet. Social care charges are crippling and force the least equipped to pay for essential services.
- Outsourcing, underfunding and understaffing compound the dismal terms and conditions of Social Care Workers.
- Care work has been chronically undervalued because, historically, it has been considered as an invisible extension of women’s unpaid labour.
- Social care services at present rely on the exploitation of a workforce made up overwhelming of women and disproportionately of black, brown and migrant workers.
- The Supreme Court’s March 2021 ruling on sleep shifts means that we are the only UK workers who are legally paid below the minimum wage whilst in the workplace.
- We need service provision that recognises social care and support as skilled work with terms and conditions which reflect our true social value.
- Social care should be not for profit, free for all, guided by co-production, democratically owned and with the voices of social care workers, disabled people and others who require support leading this transformation.
Care and Support Workers Organise! (CaSWO!) demands are:
- Social Care Workers deserve decent pay! We demand at least £15 an hour with holiday pay based on normal wages and pension parity with public sector workers.
- Fair Contracts for Social Care Workers! Contracts of employment, including minimum hours to be led by the needs of workers and those in receipt of care and support.
- Full sick pay for all Social Care Workers! Occupational sick pay for all, including full pay protection for any absence arising from COVID-19.
- Health & safety at work! Safe workplaces with genuine support for every aspect of workers’ health and wellbeing.
- Full Acknowledgement of our keyworkers rights! Care and support workers should be entitled to benefits including access to Keyworker housing and eligibility for Low Cost Home Ownership Schemes.
- Trade Union recognition for all care and support workers! Trade union access to all social care workplaces and the right to full union recognition.
- Sectoral collective bargaining rights for care and support workers! Mandatory sectoral collective bargaining relevant to all governmental and devolved jurisdictions across the UK.
- Democratising Social Care! Social Care to be brought into democratic public ownership, guided by co-production of workers, disabled people and those in receipt of support.