On the day that many public sector workers go on strike, I urge you all to remember us unpaid, overworked family carers who cannot strike to improve the inhumane conditions that this government, and the last, and the governments before that have elected that we work in order to prop up the NHS and social care systems.
You would like an improvement in your pay and working conditions? Well so would we. And a percentage increase will not help us. Both 0% and 100% of NOTHING is still ZIP.
And yet family carers provide £119bn worth of work for the state. (And that’s the three-years-ago figure.) The actual cost of the care we are relied on to provide for free is astronomical.
Last month we family carers went on a virtual strike to demonstrate this massive cost . On 21 June, 988 virtual strikers logged up 23,712 virtual strike hours, an agency cost of £355,680. But if they had fallen dead of exhaustion – and working round the clock for months, years on end makes this a distinct possibility – the annual replacement cost would have been £130 MILLION. Multiply that by the millions of carers the state is relying on to work these inhumane hours and you can see you have a problem.
Apart from the Guardian and Carers World Radio, this strike was largely unacknowledged. Our plight is a matter of indifference to many who fight for other forms of social justice. Owen Jones didn’t talk about our conditions, neither did Polly Toynbee. Russell Brand didn’t take off his shirt in sympathy for our cause.
But folks – just because you pretend we don’t exist doesn’t mean that we’re not here. Carers have as good a case as other – clearly more politically sexy – strikers. And we’re not going away. In fact, we’re not able to go anywhere
The next Carers’ Virtual Strike will be FRIDAY 21 Nov 2014. Please support it. If you think your hours are tough, your pay is poor, look at our lives and remember, everything is relative.
So how can you help?
Everyone – and particularly political parties – Read and understand our Carers Manifesto
Unions? We want, we need union representation as carers. Unison, Unite can’t you go beyond expressions of sympathy and find some way of having an allied chapel specifically of family carers?
Public? please read and sign this 38 degrees petition, demanding better recognition and rights for home carers
You can listen to – and download – the Carers World Radio podcast on the first Carers Virtual Strike here. (I apologise for my slightly stammering delivery, I was having a number of little seizures as I spoke.).