Bolton’s Labour Councillors have reacted with dismay and anger as their calls on the Conservative Council to publicly back the Care Workers Vs Covid-19 campaign are rejected.

The Care Workers vs COVID-19 campaign, Launched by Unison North West, calls for urgent action to be taken by local councils and other organisations to protect vital care workers, the elderly, and those most at risk to the spread of COVID-19.

The aims of the campaign are to:

  1. Protect Health – Priority testing for care workers to limit the spread of disease to vulnerable patients and service users. Guarantee all essential training and personal protection equipment (PPE) to all frontline workers (e.g. goggles, masks, hand sanitisers, thermometers) in line with Public Health England guidance.
  2. Protect Pay – Full normal pay for all those required by government guidance to self-isolate or who become ill because of COVID-19, in order to prevent unnecessary spread of infection. This includes all staff on zero-hour contracts, bank/relief contracts or multiple contracts.
  3. Protect Employment – Ensure no-one is dismissed or laid-off for staying at home to care for themselves or their family. Absence due to COVID-19 should be excluded from absence management triggers.
  4. Protect Families – Carers leave on full-pay for workers caring for a dependent who has COVID-19 or for whom childcare is unavailable.

Bolton Labour Leader, Cllr Nick Peel, said “I contacted the Leader of the Council, David Greenhalgh, to ask if the Council was prepared to join other northern authorities and back the campaign, in support of our care workers who are on the front line in the struggle against Covid-19. I was disappointed when I received the reply to say that they would not back it.

“The Tories are refusing to sign up to the 4 pledges on the basis that the Council does not directly run some care services, but with respect, this really is fudging the issue. Obviously, where we don’t run care services, we should instead use our influence to encourage those that do run the services to back our care workers.

This decision will anger a lot of people, but we will not leave it there. Labour tabled a motion for the July meeting of the Council, again asking the Council to demonstrate with action rather than words that they will give care workers the support they need. Unfortunately we didn’t get to that motion, before the meeting ended. However, this will be firmly on the agenda at the next meeting in September, and we are calling on the other parties to put pressure on the Tory Council by voting  for our motion.

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