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Councils across Merseyside throw their support behind care workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic

Councils across Merseyside throw their support behind care workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic

by Danielle Thompson (April 2020)

COUNCILS across Merseyside have thrown their support behind care workers who are on the frontline of the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Sefton Council joined Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral and Halton’s local authorities to back trade union UNISON’s ‘Care Workers vs COVID-19’ campaign after hundreds of carers shared their ‘coronavirus horror stories.’

Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Council have both announced that they will pour money into local care services, (£6m and £2m respectively) in order to ensure that care workers who need to self-isolate, shield or take days off sick due to COVID-19 will be paid full normal pay, rather than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £95 per week.

Meanwhile, Halton and Sefton Councils have both signed up to UNISON’s Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge- committing them to protect the health, pay and employment of care workers, whilst Wirral Council have committed to give local care workers a pay rise to the real Living Wage of at least £9.30 per hour.

The pledges come a week after University of Kent Law School released a report based on the views of 2,600 care workers from the North West who responded to a UNISON survey, which more than 400 Merseyside based carers had responded to. A large majority of the care workers said that their employers were not doing enough to keep them and the people they care for safe.

The key issues facing care workers in the North West are: a severe lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and an inability to self-isolate if necessary due to a lack of sick pay which puts both service users and care workers at risk.

UNISON North West regional organiser Dan Smith said: “The responses of thousands of North West care workers to our survey shows that care workers across the region are not being supported to stop the spread of coronavirus. Applause, badges and plaudits mean nothing if care workers are unable to do their jobs without putting their own life- and the lives of their service users- at risk.

“That’s why we wholeheartedly commend Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Council’s move to ensure that care workers in their area are able to protect themselves and those they care for by self-isolating if necessary, without fear of struggling to get by on the Government’s paltry SSP payments. And Wirral Council’s step to give their care workers a pay rise is admirable- our caring heroes are worth every penny.

“These ground-breaking interventions by councils across Merseyside show that care workers’ fates are not just in our incompetent Government’s hands- local authorities can, and must step in to protect the care workers who protect us all from this deadly virus. We look forward to working with Sefton and Halton Councils who have signed our Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge, in order to secure concrete commitments for local care workers and service users.

“We call on all councils across the North West to deliver for care workers in their areas and protect care workers, their families and those they care for by signing the Care Workers vs COVID-19 pledge.”

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