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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Aged care strike to mark 1,500 COVID-19 deaths in care

Workers at seven major aged care providers caring for thousands of aged care residents will take strike action in three states today.

The strike comes as Australia marks the tragic recent milestone – passed the day before the election – of 1,500 deaths in aged care from COVID-19 this year.

“Aged care workers are buoyed by the promises of change made by Labor,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith said today.

“Unfortunately those promises do not immediately address the continuing crisis facing workers and residents across the country.

“Omicron infections are now occurring in 825 aged care facilities – up from 761 the week before – and the death toll from Covid last week alone was 80 aged care residents.”

She said strike actions will continue to affect seven major providers employing about 11,000 aged care workers in 149 aged care facilities, caring for more than 11,500 residents.

Strike action will take place at the biggest aged care providers in Queensland (BlueCare), South Australia (Southern Cross Care) and Western Australia (Aegis), along with several other major providers in those states.

“In their industrial action, aged care workers always made it clear they were demanding the best possible offer from their employers, and they continue to demand employers take responsibility for the conditions workers and residents face,” Ms Smith said.

“It’s not good enough for very rich, very large organisations saying ‘my hands are tied, we blame the government’ when they clearly have the resources to offer aged care workers a decent pay rise, more staff and more time to care.

“Large not-for-profit providers are on notice aged care workers will next week take their protests to the head offices of Anglicare and Southern Cross Care in SA, and Churches of Christ and BlueCare in Queensland, if these big organisations continue to turn a deaf ear to workers.

“Workers will continue to hold their bosses to account and will do so even when Labor’s promised reforms become a tangible reality for workers.”

Ms Smith said Labor’s aged care promises had the potential to significantly improve the lives of thousands of aged care workers and aged care residents, including:

  • Lifting daily care time from 180 minutes to 215 minutes in line with Royal Commission recommendations.
  • Placing a registered nurse at aged care facilities 24/7.
  • Agreeing to support the outcome of a work-value case where a 25 per cent increase in wages has been claimed.

“We are in no doubt these reforms when implemented to the fullest extent will greatly improve the conditions facing aged care workers and aged care residents,” Ms Smith said.

“Until then, angry aged care workers will continue to fight through every means available to win better pay, better conditions and more time to care.”

The Union boss provided the following three statements from unnamed aged care staff in three states:

Aged care worker from South Australia: “We are walking off the job because we are burnt out, we are stressed, we are always short of staff. We want more staff – not just for us but for our residents. They are suffering.”

Aged care worker from Queensland: “We’re pushed to the limit by management, working with no breaks. Stress is at a dangerous high. Residents are anxious and the workload is unmanageable.”

Aged care worker from Western Australia: “The main reason is the residents. That is the main reason for me that I’m taking strike action.”

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