Home | News | Aged care workers waiting on bonus, strike action planned: UWU
AWU's Carolyn Smith presenting to the Aged Care Royal Commission in 2020. Photo: Supplied

Aged care workers waiting on bonus, strike action planned: UWU

A survey of 1000 aged care workers conducted by the United Workers Union has
found that 97 per cent of respondents are yet to receive the promised $800
bonus for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union said many of those surveyed expressed anger and resentment at the
failed rollout which it blames on inadequate bureaucratic processes.

UWU aged care director Carolyn Smith told Aged Care Insite “aged care workers have
experienced multiple disappointments from the government during the pandemic”.

“They’re pretty angry, to be honest.

“Aged care workers were failed in the vaccination program, they were failed
with PPE, they were left to fend for themselves during Omicron, working
repeated double shifts – and now they have been failed in the bonus program.”

In January, the Morrison Government promised a bonus of $800 to 265,000 aged
care workers.

While the announcement was welcomed, the union said many aged care staff
felt it was a way to distract them from the real systemic issues in aged care.

“We have a crisis of low pay, we have a crisis of understaffing – an 800
dollar bonus isn't going to fix those issues,” Smith said.

The union said it has lodged applications with the Fair Work Commission to
push for a strike that will involve 13,000 workers across Queensland, South Australia
and Western Australia.

“Aged care workers are being pushed to take unprecedented industrial action
because of pay and conditions that are failing workers and failing residents,”
Smith said, adding “it’s been coming for a long time”.

“Given the massive understaffing and the real dip in quality care, the only
way they can put older Australians first is to take this action.

“This action is for better wages, but it's also for better staffing levels
and they're saying 'we're actually doing this because we care.'”

Another concern is the increase in living expenses due to inflation.

The average weekly income of a full-time aged care worker is $900, according
to a report from the Australian Aged Care Collaboration.

Its calculations showcase a sombre outlook.

“Aged care workers in single households are likely to be in serious financial stress with little to no savings buffer,” AACC's report said.

“Now they're working twice as hard and getting paid low wages still," says Smith.

“Aged care workers are no longer prepared to wait.”

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One comment

  1. It’s time the government took aged care and our elders seriously.
    Tokens like this are just to distract from the fact the entire workforce, and therefore the people they care for, are undervalued.
    It’s an insult to all older Australians from a government that only pretends to care for photo opportunities.
    I hope the ANMF joins this too, and get the whole disjointed sector united to get real change and good care for those we love.

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