Labour are celebrating after a motion by Cllr Elaine Sherrington calling upon the Council to back the Care Workers Vs Covid campaign was passed at a full meeting of the Council. However, Cllr Nick Peel, Labour Group Leader, has warned that the victory could end up being symbolic only. He explained, “whilst councillors from the smaller parties supported Labours motion, thus allowing us to achieve a majority, the Tory councillors did not. This will likely mean, that as they control the Cabinet, they will simply choose to ignore the wishes of the Council.”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Protect Families – Carers leave on full-pay for workers caring for a dependent who has COVID-19 or for whom childcare is unavailable.
Cllr Sherrington continued “The Tories argued that they won’t sign up to the pledges because the Council does not directly run some care services, but this clearly missing the point. 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. Rather than taking a common sense position, the Tories instead hid behind their party policy.”
In the vote that took place in an online live meeting of the Council, the Conservatives were the only Group to vote on block against the motion. Under the rules of the Council, the Tories, as the Group that make up the Cabinet cannot be instructed on policy by the majority of the other councillors.
Cllr Nick Peel added “it won’t be the first time that this minority administration has gone against the wishes of the majority of Councillors, but we urge them to accept the vote and sign the pledge. We will not back away from this; care workers are too much of a valuable part of our society for us to let this go. We will continue to argue the point and will continue with our campaign.”