Striking aged care workers are taking their fight direct to Southern Cross Care headquarters in inner suburban Adelaide today, the latest in a series of rolling stoppages.
Aged care workers are staging a two-hour protest at Southern Cross Care’s Glenside head offices, following strike action at AnglicareSA’s Hindmarsh headquarters yesterday.
Carolyn Smith, the United Workers Union’s aged care director, says that the battle has been brought to the aged care provider’s doorstep so that workers could appeal to the provider’s executive team directly.
“Workers from across Southern Cross Care’s 17 facilities have taken strike action to tell Southern Cross Care they need to show their workers respect.”
She says that workers are imploring their employers for better pay, more staff and more time to care.
“Appropriate staffing and a workforce that is valued and respected are the keys to quality aged care, but workers have been forced to take strike action by conditions in aged care that have gone from horrible to terrifying.
“Southern Cross Care chief executive David Moran must listen to his workers’ demands.”
A pay rise of 4 per cent was put on the table by Southern Cross Care, but was rejected by workers who are imploring for wage increases that surpass inflation, currently sitting at 5.1 per cent.
“Today aged care workers are converging on Glenside to tell Southern Cross Care that their offer is not good enough,” Smith says.
Moran responded in a statement that whilst he understands workers desperate calls for reform, it would be more appropriate for pressure to be applied on government, rather than individual providers.
“We believe the action planned by the UWU is misguided and will not result in positive change for its members.
“We believe that if any action is taken it should be directed toward the government with a view to influencing policy and budget settings which we absolutely support.”
Moran adds that rosters were tailored to allow a portion of his workforce to attend the action without compromising on residents care.
Meanwhile, he says that his organisation is actively participating in the government consultation process.
“We are advocating for change on behalf of our compassionate and highly valued staff, by supporting the Australian Aged Care Collaboration who are petitioning political parties to commit additional funds towards a wage increase for aged care staff as recommended by the royal commission,” Moran says.
Smith maintains, however, that the buck stops with aged care workers’ employers.
“The sooner Southern Cross Care gets on board and recognises workers need to be treated fairly, the sooner the appalling conditions facing aged care workers and aged care residents can be addressed.”
This latest strike marks a week of coordinated action from UWU members, with workers from five other aged care providers in Western Australia and Queensland taking to the streets yesterday to maintain calls for better pay and conditions.
“The terrible fact is more than 12 months on from the royal commission report, older Australians still do not have access to the level of care required to ensure they can live with safety and dignity,” Smith says.
Workers from Bluecare in Queensland were inspired to protest yesterday after rejecting a 2 per cent pay rise offered by parent company UnitingCare.
Taking inflation into consideration, this offer would still signify a 3.1 per cent reduction in the real wages of some of the country’s most lowest paid workers.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed off yesterday on his Government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s work value case for the aged care industry.
The exact details of this submission are not yet publicly available, Albanese says that it recommends aged care workers “not go backwards.”
This marks the fourth week of industrial action by aged care workers and members of the United Workers Union.
Previously, workers from seven major aged care providers and 149 facilities across Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have carried out industrial action, representing 11,000 aged care workers across the country.