Joe has welcomed the progress the Council is making on promoting the Living Wage to private sector employers and improving social care. However, he has warned that more could still be done.
The Council has approved a report from the Living Wage and Ethical Care working group which outlines a number of steps the Council will take on both issues.
The working group was established after Joe's motion on the Living Wage on 18th December 2013. Ethical Care was added to the groups remit after Joe proposed that North Ayrshire Council sign up to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter on 26th March 2014.
Speaking on the Living Wage proposals, Joe said,
“I am pleased that something I started during Living Wage Week in 2013 looks likely to see more people in North Ayrshire benefit from the Living Wage.”
“This is important as it’s about time that every worker was paid a fair wage for a fair days work. The Living Wage is the minimum that workers need to have a decent standard of living and with costs rising its becoming increasingly important that we deliver it for both public and private sector workers.”
“The Council running its own Living Wage Campaign will hopefully promote the benefits of its payment to local businesses whilst scoring employment matters in our procurement process will act as an encouragement to those who want to win lucrative council contracts to pay their employees the Living Wage.”
“More could still be done though and Scottish Labour would make it a mandatory requirement of all public contracts that staff are paid at least the Living Wage. The SNP Government have voted against the proposal a number of times over the last year.”
On the Ethical Care aspect Joe added,
“Whilst the procurement changes will hopefully see the pay and terms and conditions of those care workers employed by private care companies commissioned by the Council improve the Labour Group would have signed up, at least in principle, to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter.”
“Social care is one of Scotland’s biggest scandals. UNISON’s “Time to Care” survey exposed that over 50% of care workers are given time limited visits which last between 7 and 15 minutes, they are paid less than the Living Wage and don’t get paid for travel time, meaning many are paid less than the minimum wage.”
“The Council have provided reassurances on many of our concerns but the reality is that because of austerity and the underfunded council tax freeze local authorities across the country are increasingly outsourcing care to private companies who are out to make a profit.”
““Social care should be about helping older and vulnerable people live with dignity and independence in their own home not about cost and profit. If the Council delivers on this report then we will be making strides towards delivering this but we could have shown our commitment to it by signing up to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter.
Original motion on Living Wage campaign, Council meeting of 18th December 2013:
a motion by Joe Cullinane, seconded by Councillor McNamara, in the following terms:
"This Council acknowledges that being a supporter of the Living Wage means more than simply paying it and therefore resolves to establish a North Ayrshire Living Wage Campaign to promote the benefits of the Living Wage to private sector employers in the area to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from it."
Original motion on UNISON Ethical Care Charter, Council meeting of 26th March 2014:
a Motion by Councillor Cullinane seconded by Councillor McNamara, in the following terms:
"This council recognises the important job that carers do and believes that they deserve to receive a fair wage for their labour and good terms and conditions. The council therefore welcomes UNISON's Ethical Care Charter and requests the Chief Executive to bring a report to Cabinet regarding the implications of the Council signing up to the charter and becoming a Ethical Care Council by commissioning homecare services which adhere to the charter."
Proposals from the Living Wage and Ethical Care working group:
- The Council's Contract Strategy template be amended to include the consideration of workforce matters prior to advertising tenders.
- The Council organises a campaign, led by Economy and Communities, to encourage businesses in North Ayrshire to consider payment of the Living Wage.
- Tenders for care services such as Care at Home, which is due for renewal in 2016, consider the evaluation of workforce related matters as part of the tender evaluation in accordance with SPPN 1/2015. This will help achieve the desired outcomes from Unison's Ethical Care Charter.
- The North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership hold a seminar for elected members and the Joint Integration Board members on workforce matters.
More information on the UNISON Ethical Care Charter:
UNISON’s “It’s a time to care” report - http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/timetocare.pdf
UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter -http://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/Research%20Material/Final%20Ethical%20Care%20Charter%20PDF.pdf
UNISON’s “It’s a time to care” report includes statements from care workers including;
“Rush, rush, rush, I think they forget we are dealing with human beings.”
“Clients are anxious as they don’t know which carer is coming from day to day.”
“I never seem to have enough time for the human contact and care that these people deserve.”
“We are poorly paid and undervalued except by the people we care for.”