Strike action could be expected within the next week after nearly all major providers in Australia have agreed to join the peak union's dispute with the federal government.
Bolton Clarke of South Australia is the seventh provider to endorse UWU's plans, with union representatives meeting with Regis Aged Care from WA tonight.
Aged care workers have been expressing anger regarding the government's inadequate response to chronic understaffing and low pay.
UWU aged care director Carolyn Smith told Aged Care Insite that the "mood across the providers is very strong", where "up to 97 per cent of the ballots returned in favour of undertaking industrial action".
"Aged care workers are being forced to take unprecedented strike action because of pay and conditions that fail workers and residents," Smith said.
"We think it's very likely that all aged providers will vote for industrial action.
"Once we've got the final result, we'll be talking about what sort of action people might want to take in their workplaces."
Queensland's largest aged care provider, BlueCare, and South Australia's largest residential aged care provider, Southern Cross Care, have endorsed the strike action.
With Bolton Clarke South Australia joining yesterday the UWU is hoping to persuade Regis Aged Care in WA tonight.
They'll also be discussing what kind of strike action aged care workers want to undertake.
"People voted for paperwork bans, for not wearing their uniform, wearing union badges and the ability to talk to the media, which most are not allowed to because of workplace policies," Smith said.
"Our members are determined that there will be mitigation, that providers have plenty of notice so they can get agency staff in.
"I think we'll see all of that action in the next couple of weeks."
Smith said that working through Omicron has exacerbated the situation, where "people felt they were putting themselves on the line".
With entry-level care workers receiving roughly $21 an hour and facilities dealing with a high staff turnover, people have been left exhausted and frustrated.
Next week, the Fair Work Commission will announce whether it will increase aged care workers' wages by 25 per cent.
"There's a point where people say: ’It's not enough anymore to call me a hero – we need some change; more staff in the sector and better pay,’ " Smith said.
"Many people, including Scott Morrison, have said the problems in aged care are complex, but they're really not that complex.
"Most of the problems of aged care can be fixed if we have more staff, if they're trained properly and paid a decent wage in recognition of the skills and dedication that they bring."
The UWU hopes to announce the strike by the end of the week, once the final ballot has come through.Do you have an idea for a story?
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