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Pre-election strike action an insight into level of ‘anger and frustration’ of workers

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On the eve of the election, strike action continues as aged care workers from Queensland’s Blue Care and Churches of Christ residential aged facilities are walking off the job today, intensifying pressure on the political parties to enact reforms post-election.  

Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union aged care director, says that the current action is inspired by the current government’s lagging action on vital reforms.

“The anger and frustration workers are experiencing is because they feel they and their residents have been completely failed by Scott Morrison and the Federal Government.

“It’s crickets on aged care from Scott Morrison and his incompetent Aged Care Services Minister, Richard Colbeck.”

Smith says that across the current Government’s term, workers’ list of grievances has only grown longer.

“Aged care workers were failed in the vaccination program, they were failed with boosters, they were failed with availability of PPE and RATs, many have been dudded on bonus payments and they were failed again when Omicron ripped through and killed more than 1400 aged care residents this year.

“When you lay it all end to end, it’s a tale of neglect, incompetence and a profound failure to adequately care for Australia’s most vulnerable people.”

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith says the anger and frustration workers are experiencing is because they feel they and their residents have been completely failed by Scott Morrison and the Federal Government.

With the Omicron variant still permeating aged care facilities across the country, and most recent figures signalling that 60 aged care residents are dying from the virus every week, workers are feeling heartbroken and powerless.

“More than 350 aged care residents have died of COVID since the Federal election campaign was called, and yet it’s not an aged care crisis for Scott Morrison — he’s too busy putting on silly hats,” Smith says.

“There is real anger about what has happened in aged care, and that anger is rightly directed at Scott Morrison’s failures.

Aged care workers, not surprisingly, will be preferencing the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at the ballot box.

“Labor has put up a plan that promises to materially address the crisis in aged care,” Smith says.

In an analysis from the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, the ALP was rated as providing the most comprehensive aged care policy package, which includes mandated 24/7 nursing and mandated minimum care time of 215 minutes in RACF, and support for worker pay-rises.

Smith said the workers would continue taking strike action to hold their employers accountable for better pay and more time to care.

“They need more staff so they can provide the quality care they want to provide and they need better wages so they can stay in the industry that they love.

“They are not stopping until they change aged care.”

Today’s action comes as workers from Anglicare SA undertook long-awaited strike action yesterday, after a delay to their planned coordination with the national strike action that took place last week.

AnglicareSA CEO Grant Reubenich tells Aged Care News that earlier strike action was untenable due to the risk of compromising resident health and safety.

However, he adds that his organisation is supportive of workers’ demands for higher pay.

“AnglicareSA will continue to advocate for long overdue Federal Government-funded wage and workforce reform for our aged care sector, currently being heard in the Fair Work Commission’s work value case.”

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