United Workers Union officials in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have threatened to pursue a campaign of protected strike action involving 15,000 aged care workers if their claims for wage rises, better staffing and reduced workloads are not met.
While aged-care workers had traditionally been reluctant to take industrial action, UWU aged-care director Carolyn Smith said she expected strong support from workers, in an interview with The Australian.
“This is mostly women workers saying ‘time’s up,” Ms Smith said.
“It’s a little bit like the MeToo movement for aged-care workers. It’s saying we’re just not going to take it any longer.”
The Fair Work Commission is currently considering a claim by the Australia Nursing and Midwifery Federation and Health Services Union to lift aged care pay by 25 per cent.
If the case is successful, personal carers will receive a wage bump of approx $5 per hour, from $23.09 to $28.86 based on rates from when the application was lodged.
Home care workers and registered nurses in aged care will also receive an increase if the case is successful. The hearing is scheduled for July 6-7 2022.
“Workers are being pushed beyond breaking point by understaffing, impossible workloads and the emotional toll of not having enough time or support to provide the quality of care that residents require,”’ Ms Smith said.
“To add insult to injury, they are also expected to put up with some of Australia’s lowest wages. Aged-care workers are fed up with being ignored by their employers, who have consistently rejected their claims for a meaningful increase in wages and more care time.”
Ms Smith said members were concerned that while significant money had been put into aged care since the aged-care royal commission, claiming that “none of it has ended up in care”.