Union bid to pay carers minimum wage of £15 an hour after ‘years of contempt’


Union leaders will step up their campaign for carers to earn £15 an hour when they meet for their annual conference this week.

The GMB will seek to bolster the case for higher pay when members gather in Harrogate, North Yorks.

Speaking exclusively to the Mirror, Secretary-General Gary Smith said nurses were on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, working in “care homes that the Tories turned into morgues”.

He added, “They deserve to emerge into a country fit for heroes, a different kind of world and a different kind of economy with a reward and respect for the work they do.”

He called for a pay rise for the sector, where many employees are paid the minimum hourly rate of just £9.50 for employees aged 23 and over, rising to £9.18 for employees aged 21 and 22 and for employees aged 18-18 £6.83 drops 20th

Highlighting the pressure staff have been facing during the pandemic, Mr Smith said: “The Government stood by and allowed care homes to be converted into morgues.

“The government stood by and allowed nursing homes to be converted into morgues,” he said


Humphrey Nemar)

“Our people slept in nursing homes while people died, they lived there to try and take care of the people they loved and cared for.

“These people have been treated with absolute contempt for years – undervalued, underpaid – and there needs to be a new economic deal for the working people of this country and there needs to be a new deal for carers.

“Our demand is very clear – £15 an hour for nurses, that’s the average hourly wage.”
He believed that increasing the wallet “would make a huge difference for the entire sector, it would transform the lives of many low-paid women workers, it would also mean we could recruit and retain caregivers in ways that we can’t.” would “.

Mr Smith added: “Fifteen pounds an hour – that allows people to keep a roof over their heads, keeps them out of food banks and means they could potentially pay their energy bills this year.”

He warned of possible strikes unless caregivers get a pay rise, with women being disproportionately affected as they make up a large proportion of frontline staff.

“My message is very clear to employers in both the private and public sectors – we will not tolerate continued discrimination on pay at work and what I would like to see are strikes and demonstrations across the UK for equal pay and pay increases in care,” he said.

Gary Smith with Ben Glaze from Spiegel


Humphrey Nemar)

“If employers don’t work with us, if councils don’t work for equal pay, we must be ready to take action – and this union will not be lacking.”

Boris Johnson promised a plan to deal with the social crisis on the day he debuted at No. 10 in July 2019.

He said at the time: “I announce now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will resolve the social care crisis once and for all with a clear plan that we have prepared to ensure dignity and security for every older person to give what he deserves.”

Finally, last September (2021), alongside a 1.25% increase in social security, a blueprint called “Health and Social Security Contribution” emerged.

Billions are to be pumped into the welfare system – but only once chronic NHS backlogs have been cleared.

Many experts doubt the money will ever go to social welfare.

“There has been so much talk and so many social care initiatives and none of it has changed the scale,” Mr Smith said.

“All the initiatives and all the talk about care over the years by successive governments – nobody has addressed the crisis in social care.”
He continued: “Johnson has made so many promises – there is a litany of broken promises with Boris Johnson.

“Boris Johnson is a liar.”

“Johnson has made so many promises – there’s a litany of broken promises with Boris Johnson,” he said


(Getty Images)

Mr Smith accused the PM of failing carers and other key workers who have been hailed for their service during the Covid-19 crisis.

“In relation to all of Johnson’s rhetoric, as we know, the Prime Minister is lying and will say whatever gets him through the day,” he warned.

“All those promises and all that gratitude to the frontline workers — that was dropped by the government.

“It would suit parts of the industry and the Tories if they tried to move away from this recognition, this moment and coming together of the country and this celebration of the role of frontline workers.

“What we can say is that in relation to the ordinary public – those who use care homes, those whose families live in care homes, those who rely on healthcare – they are aware of the role that key workers have played during the period , has not escaped pandemic.”

He added: “I think we’re at a crossroads politically and economically in the UK because I think a lot of people are fed up with this year-long race to the bottom on wages and conditions, insecure, badly paid, non-union employment.”

The Mirror is committed to Fair Care for All.

Union boss warns Starmer to be ‘bolder’

Keir Starmer needs to be “bolder” in laying out his plan for the UK, GMB boss Gary Smith has warned.

The union general secretary said: “Labour could be a lot bolder.

“There has been this global trauma surrounding the pandemic and we should be stepping into this new world order where ordinary working people are respected and given their true worth.

“After 1945, in a country torn apart by years of war, a Labor government rebuilt another type of country and another kind of economy that was stronger, better and fairer.

“There has to be that level of radicalism in Labour.

“I think we need to see and feel that there will be a world where ordinary working people will find their true value.”

Stressing “I’m not here to ride in the back seat for Keir Starmer” or “to mark Keir Starmer’s testimony”, he believed the Labor leader was “very sincere” and stressed “there’s a radicalism at the heart of the Political party”.

But he added: “I think she needs to articulate her message much better and I think the party needs to talk about a different kind of economy.”

Union leader Keir Starmer



Calls for a major expansion of renewable energies

The GMB has called for a huge increase in jobs in the renewable energy sector, highlighting figures showing that more people work in theme parks than in wind power in the UK.

On Tuesday the union will address the “renewable jobs scandal” and call for more jobs in the UK for the sector.

Secretary General Gary Smith said: “We have a growing energy crisis and it was entirely predictable.”

He feared that power plants would end up “burning more imported coal and more imported gas to keep the lights on” because the future was unplanned.

Boris Johnson has claimed that a new nuclear power plant will be built every year for eight years to deal with the crisis.

However, critics slammed the promise, warning that it was undeliverable.

The Prime Minister has also promised an increase in wind power – and the GMB wants British workers to benefit from it.

It is estimated that more than 15,000 people worked at UK theme parks in 2020 – while there were 14,800 jobs in wind power in the same year, according to the union.

“The promised green jobs of the future have been exported to places like Indonesia and China and we’re bringing renewable energy infrastructure back halfway around the world on diesel-powered barges – it’s an absolute scandal,” Mr Smith said.

“So you come to the reality that more people work in theme parks than in manufacturing and in Frabircairton in the renewable energy industry.

“This will go down in history as a huge missed opportunity.”

About conference

This week’s conference is Gary Smith’s first as union leader and the first face-to-face congress since the coronavirus pandemic.

The 54-year-old general secretary told Der Spiegel: “It will be great to bring people together for the first time.

“Our membership reflects the British working class.”
“It will be a fantastic and stimulating event.

“There’s going to be great energy and I’m really looking forward to it.”
More than 500 of the 500,000 union members are said to come to the spa town.

With rising prices, a sluggish economy and calls for wage increases, the cost-of-living crisis is expected to dominate the five-day meeting.

“People will be hurt, people will be concerned, but there will also be a mood of hope and optimism about the power of the union and the power to have a collective voice and organize,” he said.

“We’re about jobs and work, that’s our priority.

“We are not a third sector organization, charity or political party.

“Our only focus is how we organize and campaign to make work better.”

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