Uniting workers and communities in the London Borough of Camden
It is with dismay that following a week where the scandal of zero hours contracts made national headlines, we have to protest at Labour-led Camden Council’s ongoing failure to commission services on the basis of decent pay and conditions for staff.
Camden’s home-care services were privatised more than four years ago, and most workers are now employed on zero hours contracts. Where UNISON has raised this with Councillors and commissioning chiefs, we have been met with the refrain of “blame the market” at best and, at worst, a stony silence.
Of course, Camden commissioners also cite the savage Government cuts to budgets as their excuse for letting contracts with care providers who refuse to pay the London Living Wage, though the process started before the arrival of the current Tory-led coalition. Meanwhile, a system that relies increasingly on poverty pay and job insecurity for most of its workforce is surely a recipe for ever more cruelty and neglect.
In the 21st century, we are facing a race to the bottom in the pay and conditions for those who carry out demanding jobs in caring for vulnerable people in their own homes. The ‘direction of travel’ appears to be back to a Victorian future. Even in London home-care workers’ pay is often either at or barely above the National Minimum Wage (£6.32 per hour from 1 October), and staff frequently receive no pay for travel between their clients, while sick pay and holiday pay is at the bare minimum.
We therefore call on Camden Council to insist that all staff employed on outsourced contracts receive:
We urge readers to write in protest at this scandal to the Leader of the Council – Sarah Hayward, Deputy Leader of the Council – Pat Callaghan (who is also lead member for Adult Social Care) and demand that Camden’s Labour Council insist on the above minimum standards for all commissioned services and demand that the Labour Party commits itself to the abolition of zero hours contracts if returned to Government at the next General Election.
Co-Chair Camden UNISON