UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Social care is broken. Despite it being an essential service that should be the cornerstone of a compassionate society, the Westminster government has washed its hands of it.

It has been allowed to deteriorate into a fragmented, underfunded and privatised system that’s unfit to meet the needs of social care users. The inadequate pay and conditions for the workers propping up the system, fail to recognise their value and contributions.

UNISON knows that care workers are the beating heart of social care, and is proud to represent so many working in care homes and communities.

Care workers should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with the best care and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver and it’s putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.

But a better way is possible. A national care service is the radical change needed to fix social care. A service that everyone can be proud of.

Care users would be able to access the right care when they need it, their families would be reassured and able to continue working, and care workers would be truly valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are.

It’s in everyone’s best interest that England has a national care service. Labour has already pledged to create a national care service and a fair pay agreement in the sector.

I met with Wes Streeting MP, the shadow secretary of state for health and social care, who is the first to sign up to UNISON’s national care campaign pledge and is committed to delivering a service with the same respect as the NHS.

As we head towards a general election, UNISON is asking all parliamentary candidates in English seats, to join our campaign and publicly pledge their support.

The article UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Social care is broken. Despite it being an essential service that should be the cornerstone of a compassionate society, the Westminster government has washed its hands of it.

It has been allowed to deteriorate into a fragmented, underfunded and privatised system that’s unfit to meet the needs of social care users. The inadequate pay and conditions for the workers propping up the system, fail to recognise their value and contributions.

UNISON knows that care workers are the beating heart of social care, and is proud to represent so many working in care homes and communities.

Care workers should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with the best care and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver and it’s putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.

But a better way is possible. A national care service is the radical change needed to fix social care. A service that everyone can be proud of.

Care users would be able to access the right care when they need it, their families would be reassured and able to continue working, and care workers would be truly valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are.

It’s in everyone’s best interest that England has a national care service. Labour has already pledged to create a national care service and a fair pay agreement in the sector.

I met with Wes Streeting MP, the shadow secretary of state for health and social care, who is the first to sign up to UNISON’s national care campaign pledge and is committed to delivering a service with the same respect as the NHS.

As we head towards a general election, UNISON is asking all parliamentary candidates in English seats, to join our campaign and publicly pledge their support.

The article UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Christina McAnea lauds women who helped win NI peace

General secretary Christina McAnea was met with a standing ovation after she delivered the keynote speech on the second day of UNISON’s 2024 women’s conference in Brighton.

Smiling as she greeted the hall of delegates, Ms McAnea gave a tribute to the first female regional secretary of UNISON, Inez McCormack.

Ms McAnea described how she was in her early twenties when she first heard Ms McCormack speak at a trade union conference, saying that Ms McCormack – then Northern Ireland’s regional secretary for NUPE – “brought the conference alive.

“She’d brought half a dozen women members with her to the conference and, when she’d introduced the issue she was speaking about, she turned and called on them to speak.

“One by one, from the floor, [they spoke] they were cleaners, kitchen staff and laundry workers. They stood up and told their stories about what they did and how low pay and unequal pay impacted on their lives, their families and their communities.”

Ms McAnea described how the conference became an “electrifying account of what unequal pay really meant for those suffering the injustice”.

And she continued: “They talked about getting up early to walk to work, starting at six in the morning. Leaving their kids asleep, walking past soldiers with guns, getting stopped at checkpoints because this was during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

“They described working in the kitchen, carting heavy pots and pans around, preparing food for thousands of patients and staff or cleaning wards and theatres to keep them safe, and the back-breaking work of doing laundry for an entire hospital.

“They spoke of how difficult it was to look after themselves and their families, despite working so hard, on the low pay they were getting.”

Ms McAnea hailed Ms McCormack as one of the most prominent trade unionists in Northern Ireland’s history.

In 1985, during a nine-week strike, Ms McCormack and the laundry workers she represented at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital dumped trolley-loads of festering laundry into the offices of senior management.

Summarising the strike, Ms McAnea said: “The smell was unbearable and the dispute was swiftly resolved”.

Ms McCormack eventually helped secure commitments on equality and human rights in the Good Friday Agreement.

Ms McAnea said: “Without Inez and all the other women in UNISON, campaigning for peace and justice in Northern Ireland – and without other prominent women, like Mo Mowlam – would the peace process in Northern Ireland ever have happened or at least happened in the way it did?”

She said: “There were many obstacles to overcome, and she was always first to admit that it was more bearable to do it with a team of loyal women colleagues and members.

“Her belief was that you always had to make sure that, if you got through the barriers, then you reached back and brought other women with you.”

Addressing delegates, she told them: “This conference is your opportunity to have your voices heard. It’s the experience you’ve had in your workplaces and your lives, and your lived experience and the work you do every day, that powers our union”.

Cost of living

Ms McAnea moved on to address the impact the rising cost of living is having on women.

“We’re a union of over 1.3 million members and almost a million are women. We must speak up for women’s issues.

“Right now, everyone is feeling the impact of escalating living costs, but it’s hitting new mothers particularly hard. No mother should have to go without food or skip meals, but the failure of maternity pay to keep up with increasing living costs is driving many pregnant workers and new mothers into severe financial hardship.

“Balancing a family and working is difficult. But sadly, many women who find they need to inject some flexibility into their working lives, are coming up against employers with rigid and unimaginative attitudes.”

Women’s leadership in UNISON

Ms McAnea stated that the majority of the 12 UNISON regional secretaries are women. She celebrated their individual journeys through the union.

“Lilian, our Scottish secretary, started work as an NHS catering assistant. Lynne, the regional secretary in the north west, was a nursery nurse and part of the national nursery nurse dispute.

“Clare Williams started as a medical secretary, was convinced to join the union and then went on to win a TUC award.”

“Jo Galloway in London was encouraged to be a local organiser by a previous female regional secretary and is now our youngest ever regional secretary.”

She also acknowledged the women who started their journeys outside UNISON in the wider trade union movement.

“Kerry in the south west was a firefighter and FBU branch secretary. She represented women experiencing sexual harassment in the Fire and Rescue Service.

“Jess in Cymru/Wales started her journey through adult learning.

“Karen Loughlin in Yorkshire and Humberside started working for British Gas and became active after she was discriminated against when she went for promotion.

“Patricia McKeown in Northern Ireland started her working life as a legal clerk and branch secretary in the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland.”

Ms McAnea urged members to use their vote in the upcoming service group elections, telling them: “Who you elect could be responsible for making historic decisions.

“If you don’t know who the people on the ballot papers are, talk to the people in your branch.”

Low-paid women workers

Ms McAnea paid tribute to the low paid women workers of the union, specifically the healthcare assistants involved in the union’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign.

“About 90% of these healthcare assistants are women standing up against the injustice of not being paid the money they’re owed,” she said.

Illustrating her point, she described meeting a healthcare assistant in a hospital in Leicester recently who is working at a much higher level than band two but not being paid for it.

Violence against women and girls

Ms McAnea also spoke of the violence against women in current conflicts in Ukraine and Palestine. “Too often it’s women and children who bear the brunt of conflicts: no healthcare for women, food insecurity, human trafficking, rape and sexual violence, displacement and much more.

“The UN has said that women and children have disproportionately borne the brunt of the conflict in Israel and Gaza. We want peace now. We want a permanent ceasefire.

“UNISON has been calling on the British government, that actually has the power to influence and help secure a ceasefire, and lead to talks about a viable two-state solution for peace and security in the Middle East” to use that influence to do just that.

Elections

Speaking about the imminent general election in the UK, Ms McAnea said “Over the last 500 years there have been 109 Chancellors of the Exchequer, every one of them a man. But if Labour wins the election, Rachel Reeves will be the first woman Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“Our very own Angie Rayner could be deputy prime minister.”

Continuing to praise Ms Rayner, Ms McAnea said: “Angie is on a personal mission to make life better for working people. We’ve worked closely with her to come up with the New Deal for Working People – and get it into Labour’s manifesto.

“The New Deal will also strengthen protections for pregnant women and working mothers against unfair dismissal, tackle workplace harassment, give unions more rights to organise and secure better pay and conditions, and give Labour the power to act to close gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.”

Ms McAnea also confirmed that the union’s calls for a National Care Service will feature in the Labour manifesto. 

Concluding her speech, she asked delegates: “Why has UNISON pushed for these pledges? And why have I spent countless days in negotiations to get these into their policies?

“Because of you, UNISON women, saying ‘this is what we need’, saying ‘this is what is right’.”

The article Christina McAnea lauds women who helped win NI peace first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Christina McAnea lauds women who helped win NI peace

General secretary Christina McAnea was met with a standing ovation after she delivered the keynote speech on the second day of UNISON’s 2024 women’s conference in Brighton.

Smiling as she greeted the hall of delegates, Ms McAnea gave a tribute to the first female regional secretary of UNISON, Inez McCormack.

Ms McAnea described how she was in her early twenties when she first heard Ms McCormack speak at a trade union conference, saying that Ms McCormack – then Northern Ireland’s regional secretary for NUPE – “brought the conference alive.

“She’d brought half a dozen women members with her to the conference and, when she’d introduced the issue she was speaking about, she turned and called on them to speak.

“One by one, from the floor, [they spoke] they were cleaners, kitchen staff and laundry workers. They stood up and told their stories about what they did and how low pay and unequal pay impacted on their lives, their families and their communities.”

Ms McAnea described how the conference became an “electrifying account of what unequal pay really meant for those suffering the injustice”.

And she continued: “They talked about getting up early to walk to work, starting at six in the morning. Leaving their kids asleep, walking past soldiers with guns, getting stopped at checkpoints because this was during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

“They described working in the kitchen, carting heavy pots and pans around, preparing food for thousands of patients and staff or cleaning wards and theatres to keep them safe, and the back-breaking work of doing laundry for an entire hospital.

“They spoke of how difficult it was to look after themselves and their families, despite working so hard, on the low pay they were getting.”

Ms McAnea hailed Ms McCormack as one of the most prominent trade unionists in Northern Ireland’s history.

In 1985, during a nine-week strike, Ms McCormack and the laundry workers she represented at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital dumped trolley-loads of festering laundry into the offices of senior management.

Summarising the strike, Ms McAnea said: “The smell was unbearable and the dispute was swiftly resolved”.

Ms McCormack eventually helped secure commitments on equality and human rights in the Good Friday Agreement.

Ms McAnea said: “Without Inez and all the other women in UNISON, campaigning for peace and justice in Northern Ireland – and without other prominent women, like Mo Mowlam – would the peace process in Northern Ireland ever have happened or at least happened in the way it did?”

She said: “There were many obstacles to overcome, and she was always first to admit that it was more bearable to do it with a team of loyal women colleagues and members.

“Her belief was that you always had to make sure that, if you got through the barriers, then you reached back and brought other women with you.”

Addressing delegates, she told them: “This conference is your opportunity to have your voices heard. It’s the experience you’ve had in your workplaces and your lives, and your lived experience and the work you do every day, that powers our union”.

Cost of living

Ms McAnea moved on to address the impact the rising cost of living is having on women.

“We’re a union of over 1.3 million members and almost a million are women. We must speak up for women’s issues.

“Right now, everyone is feeling the impact of escalating living costs, but it’s hitting new mothers particularly hard. No mother should have to go without food or skip meals, but the failure of maternity pay to keep up with increasing living costs is driving many pregnant workers and new mothers into severe financial hardship.

“Balancing a family and working is difficult. But sadly, many women who find they need to inject some flexibility into their working lives, are coming up against employers with rigid and unimaginative attitudes.”

Women’s leadership in UNISON

Ms McAnea stated that the majority of the 12 UNISON regional secretaries are women. She celebrated their individual journeys through the union.

“Lilian, our Scottish secretary, started work as an NHS catering assistant. Lynne, the regional secretary in the north west, was a nursery nurse and part of the national nursery nurse dispute.

“Clare Williams started as a medical secretary, was convinced to join the union and then went on to win a TUC award.”

“Jo Galloway in London was encouraged to be a local organiser by a previous female regional secretary and is now our youngest ever regional secretary.”

She also acknowledged the women who started their journeys outside UNISON in the wider trade union movement.

“Kerry in the south west was a firefighter and FBU branch secretary. She represented women experiencing sexual harassment in the Fire and Rescue Service.

“Jess in Cymru/Wales started her journey through adult learning.

“Karen Loughlin in Yorkshire and Humberside started working for British Gas and became active after she was discriminated against when she went for promotion.

“Patricia McKeown in Northern Ireland started her working life as a legal clerk and branch secretary in the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland.”

Ms McAnea urged members to use their vote in the upcoming service group elections, telling them: “Who you elect could be responsible for making historic decisions.

“If you don’t know who the people on the ballot papers are, talk to the people in your branch.”

Low-paid women workers

Ms McAnea paid tribute to the low paid women workers of the union, specifically the healthcare assistants involved in the union’s Pay Fair for Patient Care campaign.

“About 90% of these healthcare assistants are women standing up against the injustice of not being paid the money they’re owed,” she said.

Illustrating her point, she described meeting a healthcare assistant in a hospital in Leicester recently who is working at a much higher level than band two but not being paid for it.

Violence against women and girls

Ms McAnea also spoke of the violence against women in current conflicts in Ukraine and Palestine. “Too often it’s women and children who bear the brunt of conflicts: no healthcare for women, food insecurity, human trafficking, rape and sexual violence, displacement and much more.

“The UN has said that women and children have disproportionately borne the brunt of the conflict in Israel and Gaza. We want peace now. We want a permanent ceasefire.

“UNISON has been calling on the British government, that actually has the power to influence and help secure a ceasefire, and lead to talks about a viable two-state solution for peace and security in the Middle East” to use that influence to do just that.

Elections

Speaking about the imminent general election in the UK, Ms McAnea said “Over the last 500 years there have been 109 Chancellors of the Exchequer, every one of them a man. But if Labour wins the election, Rachel Reeves will be the first woman Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“Our very own Angie Rayner could be deputy prime minister.”

Continuing to praise Ms Rayner, Ms McAnea said: “Angie is on a personal mission to make life better for working people. We’ve worked closely with her to come up with the New Deal for Working People – and get it into Labour’s manifesto.

“The New Deal will also strengthen protections for pregnant women and working mothers against unfair dismissal, tackle workplace harassment, give unions more rights to organise and secure better pay and conditions, and give Labour the power to act to close gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.”

Ms McAnea also confirmed that the union’s calls for a National Care Service will feature in the Labour manifesto. 

Concluding her speech, she asked delegates: “Why has UNISON pushed for these pledges? And why have I spent countless days in negotiations to get these into their policies?

“Because of you, UNISON women, saying ‘this is what we need’, saying ‘this is what is right’.”

The article Christina McAnea lauds women who helped win NI peace first appeared on the UNISON National site.

NEC plans for the coming year

UNISON’s national executive council (NEC) met yesterday, for the first time this year, to discuss a substantial agenda, including the motions the council will be taking to national delegate conference in June.

In her report opening the meeting, general secretary Christina McAnea applauded the achievements of 2023’s Year of Black Workers – not least in building a legacy for going forward.

She noted that this year is the union’s Year of LGBT+ Workers, adding that she would be encouraging all branches and regions to ensure they supported and made a success of it.

Ms McAnea reported on “a very cold 24 hours in Belfast”, as health, social care and education members took industrial action, which “helped to finally force the return of politicians to Stormont”.

She reported that, with the Northern Ireland Assembly once again sitting, “catch-up health pay negotiations for 2023 can start”. Elsewhere, preparations for the 2024-25 pay claims across the UK are “well under way”, she said.

With so many councils facing financial crisis, the general secretary observed that UNISON, as the biggest union in local government, had been warning for years of the risks of councils going bankrupt because of underfunding from central government.

She applauded the UNISON turnout at the recent Cheltenham demonstration to defend the right to strike. It had been “a good, upbeat event” and the union is continuing to work with the TUC on what would happen if employers attempt to use the anti-strike minimum service legislation.

Ms McAnea also told the meeting that the union is continuing to press ahead with whatever it could do regarding the ongoing situation in Gaza.

A ‘fantastically political’ conference

The meeting also received a report from UNISON president Libby Nolan, who reiterated the importance of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and Israelis affected by the war in Gaza, and stressed what a vital issue it is for UNISON.

Ms Nolan celebrated January’s “fantastically political” Black members’ conference and also highlighted the importance of the Year of LGBT+ Workers.

In discussions, the meeting highlighted the scale of cuts at councils, with one NEC member saying, “It could be the end of local government as we know it.”

The council received a report into the union’s organising to win strategy, which explained that, by the end of last year, recruitment rates were in “net growth”. The highest such growth was in schools, particularly in school branches in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There had also been an increase in new activists.

In an industrial action update, the council heard that there is “lots of action going on” at present, with recruitment and retention both up as a result.

The council also approved a report on the union’s finances and heard a further report on the union’s work on the COVID Inquiry, to ensure that those who were working on the front line during the pandemic have their stories put on record, that the lessons are learned and the right people are held responsible for the lives lost.

The article NEC plans for the coming year first appeared on the UNISON National site.

NEC plans for the coming year

UNISON’s national executive council (NEC) met yesterday, for the first time this year, to discuss a substantial agenda, including the motions the council will be taking to national delegate conference in June.

In her report opening the meeting, general secretary Christina McAnea applauded the achievements of 2023’s Year of Black Workers – not least in building a legacy for going forward.

She noted that this year is the union’s Year of LGBT+ Workers, adding that she would be encouraging all branches and regions to ensure they supported and made a success of it.

Ms McAnea reported on “a very cold 24 hours in Belfast”, as health, social care and education members took industrial action, which “helped to finally force the return of politicians to Stormont”.

She reported that, with the Northern Ireland Assembly once again sitting, “catch-up health pay negotiations for 2023 can start”. Elsewhere, preparations for the 2024-25 pay claims across the UK are “well under way”, she said.

With so many councils facing financial crisis, the general secretary observed that UNISON, as the biggest union in local government, had been warning for years of the risks of councils going bankrupt because of underfunding from central government.

She applauded the UNISON turnout at the recent Cheltenham demonstration to defend the right to strike. It had been “a good, upbeat event” and the union is continuing to work with the TUC on what would happen if employers attempt to use the anti-strike minimum service legislation.

Ms McAnea also told the meeting that the union is continuing to press ahead with whatever it could do regarding the ongoing situation in Gaza.

A ‘fantastically political’ conference

The meeting also received a report from UNISON president Libby Nolan, who reiterated the importance of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and Israelis affected by the war in Gaza, and stressed what a vital issue it is for UNISON.

Ms Nolan celebrated January’s “fantastically political” Black members’ conference and also highlighted the importance of the Year of LGBT+ Workers.

In discussions, the meeting highlighted the scale of cuts at councils, with one NEC member saying, “It could be the end of local government as we know it.”

The council received a report into the union’s organising to win strategy, which explained that, by the end of last year, recruitment rates were in “net growth”. The highest such growth was in schools, particularly in school branches in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There had also been an increase in new activists.

In an industrial action update, the council heard that there is “lots of action going on” at present, with recruitment and retention both up as a result.

The council also approved a report on the union’s finances and heard a further report on the union’s work on the COVID Inquiry, to ensure that those who were working on the front line during the pandemic have their stories put on record, that the lessons are learned and the right people are held responsible for the lives lost.

The article NEC plans for the coming year first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: A strike of last resort that’s been forced on members

A day of historical strike action took place in Northern Ireland yesterday.

The first walk-outs started at midnight when UNISON’s health members left their hospital workplaces.

I was with community assistant nurses, catering staff, admin staff and health care assistants at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, as their strike started when the clock struck 12.01.

A few hours later, I joined education staff on their school picket lines along the Falls Road. And on we marched to the Royal Hospital again and into central Belfast, where we met thousands of other striking public sector workers for our joint union rally.

Many health workers stayed behind, providing the emergency cover UNISON always ensures on strike days. They forfeited their right to strike, so that others could protest and rally, without affecting patient safety.

Essential workers shouldn’t have to be out in the freezing cold, demanding the pay they’re owed. But they’ve been forced into it. It’s the failure of politicians to release the £600m that’s already been fought for and won, that’s pushed them to the last resort of strike action.

Until power sharing in Stormont is restored, public sector workers won’t get the money they’ve been promised. Unless of course, the secretary of state, Chris Heaton-Harris, takes action to unlock the funding.

The Westminster government might have given up on the people of Northern Ireland, but UNISON hasn’t. That’s why I was there in Belfast, to show solidarity with our members.

Their frustration is real. Watching colleagues on the other side of the Irish Sea earning more than them for doing the same job, and having governments that they can actually negotiate with, makes them feel left behind.

Northern Ireland’s public services rely on workers staying in the job, but they’ll only stay with decent pay, pay parity and recognition for the essential work they do.

The message was clear from the streets of Belfast and from picket lines across Northern Ireland, Mr Heaton-Harris must release the money. Until we get that result, UNISON’s determination will not falter.

The article Blog: A strike of last resort that’s been forced on members first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: A strike of last resort that’s been forced on members

A day of historical strike action took place in Northern Ireland yesterday.

The first walk-outs started at midnight when UNISON’s health members left their hospital workplaces.

I was with community assistant nurses, catering staff, admin staff and health care assistants at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, as their strike started when the clock struck 12.01.

A few hours later, I joined education staff on their school picket lines along the Falls Road. And on we marched to the Royal Hospital again and into central Belfast, where we met thousands of other striking public sector workers for our joint union rally.

Many health workers stayed behind, providing the emergency cover UNISON always ensures on strike days. They forfeited their right to strike, so that others could protest and rally, without affecting patient safety.

Essential workers shouldn’t have to be out in the freezing cold, demanding the pay they’re owed. But they’ve been forced into it. It’s the failure of politicians to release the £600m that’s already been fought for and won, that’s pushed them to the last resort of strike action.

Until power sharing in Stormont is restored, public sector workers won’t get the money they’ve been promised. Unless of course, the secretary of state, Chris Heaton-Harris, takes action to unlock the funding.

The Westminster government might have given up on the people of Northern Ireland, but UNISON hasn’t. That’s why I was there in Belfast, to show solidarity with our members.

Their frustration is real. Watching colleagues on the other side of the Irish Sea earning more than them for doing the same job, and having governments that they can actually negotiate with, makes them feel left behind.

Northern Ireland’s public services rely on workers staying in the job, but they’ll only stay with decent pay, pay parity and recognition for the essential work they do.

The message was clear from the streets of Belfast and from picket lines across Northern Ireland, Mr Heaton-Harris must release the money. Until we get that result, UNISON’s determination will not falter.

The article Blog: A strike of last resort that’s been forced on members first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: The final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system

The government has put the final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system. The home secretary’s announcement of new immigration plans will sacrifice migrant care workers and risk a total collapse of the UK’s care system, just to appease extremist Tory backbenchers.

The health and care visa was introduced in 2020 to plug workforce gaps, but because headlines of soaring immigration numbers are compounding Rishi Sunak’s polling problems, he’s playing roulette with our essential services.

Had he, or his ministers, spoken to any employer in the care sector, they would know that any plans to curb the migrant care workforce will cause utter disaster. Not allowing migrant care workers to bring any dependants with them to the UK, will do exactly that. Potential recruits will be put off coming to the UK, and the ones already here may have to send dependants home when their visas come up for renewal.

Staff vacancies will soar from the current number of 152,000, and I don’t see a queue of British workers waiting to take up those posts. We will see care homes closing and care companies going bust.

UNISON had just released findings of appalling abuse of the migrant workers propping up social care, in its report Expendable Labour. These new plans will leave migrant care workers vulnerable to more abuse, as they can only come to the UK isolated, with no close family with them.

Finally, everyone in the UK can see what little regard this government has for the people who rely on social care, for care workers and their employers. But why would government ministers be so careless with people’s lives and so reckless with one of the biggest industries in the UK?

Maybe it’s because its workforce is predominantly low-paid women, doing work they view as low value and low intelligence. This was made clear yesterday by the home secretary in his announcement in the House of Commons.

While migrant care workers won’t be allowed to bring family with them to the UK, he said that international students coming to the UK on postgraduate research programmes could bring dependants, because, as he said, “we always want to attract the global brightest and best”.

I find the stirring of culture wars and spouting of anti-immigrant rhetoric sickening. I’ve clashed with characters from the far right on TV recently and when they talk about ‘British culture’, I’m left confused. Because I always thought we were a country that strived to be caring and welcoming. But what’s more callous than putting our older and vulnerable citizens at risk and being hostile to the people who come here to care for them.

The article Blog: The final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: The final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system

The government has put the final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system. The home secretary’s announcement of new immigration plans will sacrifice migrant care workers and risk a total collapse of the UK’s care system, just to appease extremist Tory backbenchers.

The health and care visa was introduced in 2020 to plug workforce gaps, but because headlines of soaring immigration numbers are compounding Rishi Sunak’s polling problems, he’s playing roulette with our essential services.

Had he, or his ministers, spoken to any employer in the care sector, they would know that any plans to curb the migrant care workforce will cause utter disaster. Not allowing migrant care workers to bring any dependants with them to the UK, will do exactly that. Potential recruits will be put off coming to the UK, and the ones already here may have to send dependants home when their visas come up for renewal.

Staff vacancies will soar from the current number of 152,000, and I don’t see a queue of British workers waiting to take up those posts. We will see care homes closing and care companies going bust.

UNISON had just released findings of appalling abuse of the migrant workers propping up social care, in its report Expendable Labour. These new plans will leave migrant care workers vulnerable to more abuse, as they can only come to the UK isolated, with no close family with them.

Finally, everyone in the UK can see what little regard this government has for the people who rely on social care, for care workers and their employers. But why would government ministers be so careless with people’s lives and so reckless with one of the biggest industries in the UK?

Maybe it’s because its workforce is predominantly low-paid women, doing work they view as low value and low intelligence. This was made clear yesterday by the home secretary in his announcement in the House of Commons.

While migrant care workers won’t be allowed to bring family with them to the UK, he said that international students coming to the UK on postgraduate research programmes could bring dependants, because, as he said, “we always want to attract the global brightest and best”.

I find the stirring of culture wars and spouting of anti-immigrant rhetoric sickening. I’ve clashed with characters from the far right on TV recently and when they talk about ‘British culture’, I’m left confused. Because I always thought we were a country that strived to be caring and welcoming. But what’s more callous than putting our older and vulnerable citizens at risk and being hostile to the people who come here to care for them.

The article Blog: The final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system first appeared on the UNISON National site.