Thousands of aged care workers to strike ahead of election

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Thousands of aged care workers across the country have voted to go on strike over pay and conditions ahead of the Federal Election.

United Workers Union members at Queensland’s largest aged care provider BlueCare, as well as South Australia’s largest provider Southern Cross Care SA, will join workers at Anglicare in SA, Hall & Prior in WA and Churches of Christ in Queensland in a national strike; between them, these providers have more than 7,000 workers looking after the same number of residents.

According to United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith, the “unprecedented action” is a result of pay and conditions that are “failing workers and failing residents”.

“Aged care workers know the Federal Government has failed them in the vaccination rollout, failed them with PPE and failed them in the Omicron outbreak when 900 aged care residents died, so they are holding their employers accountable.

“Across these major providers residents are being left without basic needs being met – they are left soiled for extended periods and they are at risk of falls when left unattended.

“In addition, aged care workers face pay levels so low they can barely afford the petrol to get to work, and outrageously heavy workloads mean a majority of aged care workers are thinking about resigning for good,” she said.

Workers are also voting on strike action at Aegis and Regis in WA, plus Bolton Clarke in SA; if the votes are successful, the industrial action will affect providers with in excess of 12,000 staff and the same number of residents.

“Details of what kind of action aged care workers wish to take will be worked out in coming days – but no employer should underestimate the level of anger after years of neglect of aged care workers and their residents,” said Carolyn.

Unions have promised to work with providers to ensure resident safety and well-being ahead of any strike, in addition to their mandatory notice to employers.

UWU workers across Queensland, SA and WA endorsed a strike late last year.